An Interview With: KEEGAN BRADLEY
KELLY ELBIN: One of four rookies on the U.S. Team, Keegan Bradley joins us at the 39th Ryder Cup at Medinah Country Club.
Keegan, a win earlier this year at WGC Bridgestone, tied for third at the PGA Championship; but it must be a unique feel to put on that Ryder Cup uniform today and go out and practice. How did it feel?
KEEGAN BRADLEY: Yeah, walking to the first tee today was probably the proud he's moment of my entire career, and it happened on a Tuesday at the Ryder Cup. It was a pretty special day and a lot of fun all around.
KELLY ELBIN: How long had you thought about this day and getting out there and practicing and being a part of a Ryder Cup team.
KEEGAN BRADLEY: Yeah, since I was probably five or six to be honest with you. It was pretty special, I grew up watching my Aunt Pat play on Solheim Cup teams, so it's been a dream of mine to be on a team like this.
Q. Even by Ryder Cup standards the crowd was pretty over the top. Have you ever seen anything like that especially on a Tuesday?
KEEGAN BRADLEY: No, me and Webb Simpson were saying it was basically a Sunday crowd at a major, and it was a Tuesday here. Still got four days until we play. Pretty special atmosphere, pretty intense, and I assume come Friday it's going to be these fans are going to be ready to rock and roll.
Q. Just to follow up, were you able to have fun out there? I know it was a fun atmosphere with the crowd, but you kind of seemed a little intense. Were you able to enjoy it?
KEEGAN BRADLEY: Oh, my God, I had the most fun I've maybe ever had on a golf course. It was honestly one of the highlights of my career today. I kind of expect that to happen every day this week. But it was as fun of a round of golf as I've ever played.
Q. You've been asked a number of times about advice that the veterans may have given you to get ready for this week. I'm curious, what has Aunt Pat told you about a competition like this and some of her Solheim Cup memories?
KEEGAN BRADLEY: I texted Pat this morning a picture of my golf bag just to get her excited, because I grew up watching her play and looking at her bags and being so amazed, and she just texted me "USA all the way."
That's kind of what Pat, she brings an intensity to the game, and that's what I hope she passed down to me.
Q. A couple of questions about the rough: People are talking about the fact that there's virtually no rough at all. I'm just curious, to what extent is that true? And have you ever played maybe growing up, have you ever played on a golf course where the greens might have been slower than what the rough is here?
KEEGAN BRADLEY: Well, the greens are definitely not slower than the rough. The greens are really fast.
But yeah, there's not a lot of rough. It's very similar to Augusta in terms of it's like a first cut. It's not rough, but you definitely can catch a jumper out of there and it can go over the green.
I think the course is set up great. I think the superintendent staff and the PGA have done a great job setting up this golf course.
Q. What I meant to ask you, have you ever played a golf course growing up where the greens were slower, like a muni or something, than the rough is here?
KEEGAN BRADLEY: Probably not. You know, it's a great I think it's a great setup for everybody. It's going to make the matches very exciting. I think that the course, again, is set up amazing, and I think the superintendent and the grounds staff here deserves a lot of credit.
Q. Last thing on that, does it take because the rough is that way, does it take a little bit more pressure off of you on the tee to get the ball in the fairway?
KEEGAN BRADLEY: Absolutely. Every time you step up on any of these tees you're just ripping it. That suits a lot of guys on our team very well, but also suits a lot of guys on Europe.
But you know, I still think hitting the fairway is huge no matter what it is, if it's first cut or deep rough. But it definitely, like a guy like Bubba who I played with today just was ripping it as hard as he could every hole.
Q. Practice round today with Phil and others. I'm just curious your thoughts on potential partnership there and how you feel your games complement each other with Phil.
KEEGAN BRADLEY: It would be a dream of mine to partner up with Phil. I'm happy to like I've told Davis, I'm happy to partner with anybody on this team, but me and Phil have a great relationship, and the great part about Phil is he's there for advice but will also listen to me and take me seriously. I think that's what could make us a good partnership. I'd love to play with Webb; I'd love to play with any of the guys on this team.
I don't think there's a bad match up across the board for any players on our team.
Q. I asked Jim this morning about the four of you guys who are Ryder Cup rookies and how much the veterans would need to kind of step off and help you guys out and this sort of thing. He was pretty specific in saying, other than telling you guys, hey, listen, you're here for a reason, you belong here, there's really not much that they need to do, you guys have plenty of battle tested experience and that kind of thing. But it is much different when you're playing for your nation and you've played in a big theater before, but it's going to be different. Talk about the difference of playing for the first time for the U.S. in this event.
KEEGAN BRADLEY: Yeah, it was a pretty intense moment today just on the first tee, and again, it was Tuesday.
Jim is always a guy that I've felt comfortable going to and talking to. He's already given us advice already; stay rested. It's just nice to have a guy like Jim Furyk on your side because he's so steady and so strong and such a great guy.
And I think that's a lot of the all of the veterans on our team are like that. It's comforting as a rookie to know that I can go talk to a Jim Furyk or a Phil Mickelson or Tiger or any of those guys, and they're there for you and they are into it and they want to help.
Q. Two separate questions. First, about the 15th hole, if that's going to be drivable do you think at all during the week, and how much risk reward will there be there? And second, did you work on the formats today? Did you play any alternate shot?
KEEGAN BRADLEY: The 15th hole, it depends on where they put the tee. I'm not sure exactly where they're going to put that tee. But if they do move it up, you can rip driver, but it's also a great little wedge in there. It's always good to have a couple guys with wedges in your hands.
As for the format, I think we're going to mess around with a little alternate shot tomorrow. And that's exciting to me. I think that's going to be a really fun format for me especially.
Q. Did you all just play your own ball today?
KEEGAN BRADLEY: Yeah, we did.
Q. Have you ever played alternate shot before?
KEEGAN BRADLEY: I played the Shark Shootout with Brendan Steele, and we played alternate shot. It was a little different. You both hit your drives and pick a shot and alternated from there, so that's the closest I've come.
But a good shot is a good shot, whether it's at any point, good swings and good shots will take care of birdies and stuff like that.
Q. Two questions: First, you've had two years on the PGA TOUR now, you're a major winner, world golf champion and now on the Ryder Cup team. Could you ever have envisioned that last year, say, in January? And then also, how beneficial do you think all your practice rounds with Phil the last two years have prepared you for this week?
KEEGAN BRADLEY: This is, again, a lot of pinch yourself moments in the last couple years. That seems to happen almost every week.
But you know, just sitting around the team room with Tiger and Phil and guys of that stature, it's kind of a smack in the face almost to where I am. Sometimes it's all happening so fast, you kind of don't catch it, and there's times this week where I've said, I'm in the same room with these guys, and that's pretty special.
Playing with Phil helps me every week. I get in these games with Phil, and I've got more nerves in those than I do in the tournament. I think it's kind of a great way for preparing me for the actual rounds, and in a tournament like this where it's match play, that's all we play, and it's been great practice for the last couple of years.
Q. I'll preface this by asking you if you watched the Ryder Cup last time in Wales.
KEEGAN BRADLEY: I did, yeah.
Q. We had a situation where we're kind of moseying along, and then lo and behold, it comes down to one match, win or lose, the Graeme and Hunter match. If that happens again, do you want the ball in your hands?
KEEGAN BRADLEY: Yeah, I'd love it, yeah.
Q. Did you watch the press conferences afterwards?
KEEGAN BRADLEY: I did.
Yeah, you know, if it does come down to me, I'd love it. I think that would be fun. I can't speak from experience because I've never played. But the way that it came down with Hunter and to see him so emotional after the match was special to me because it just shows how much everybody is so into this.
That's one of the things that almost takes me by surprise a little is how intense and into it every player is on this team. That's a great example.
And if it does come down to me, I'd love to just relish the challenge of trying to win my match.
Q. Alternate shot, have you or will you hit a different golf ball in practice because you'll probably have to do it at some point on a hole on alternate shot, and has Davis talked to you about this at all?
KEEGAN BRADLEY: You know, I think that's something that we'll talk about tonight. But a lot of the guys play the same balls on this team. I know that we've spoken a little bit about just playing one ball the whole way around. I'm fine with playing whatever ball.
You know, the balls are so similar now that I think that it would be wouldn't be that big of a deal for me personally.
Q. These games that Phil has been setting up, is there a greater purpose to it? Is it just a matter of honing your game and playing for a little money, or do you think there's a greater purpose, like maybe aimed at Ryder Cups?
KEEGAN BRADLEY: Absolutely. I think one of the main focuses of it is for Ryder Cup and for the Presidents Cup. Phil is as big of a cheerleader, as big of a he's into this tournament. And he does this, he picks young guys that he thinks like prepare them for a match here in the Ryder Cup, and without a doubt, he thinks about this stuff ahead of time.
But it also keeps your game very sharp. I've always played very well after I've played in a Phil match because he gets your juices flowing, you start putting balls into the hole.
If I'm ever playing against Phil I want to beat him so bad that sometimes it doesn't bring out the best golf in me, and it's a great way to prepare for a tournament like this. And without a doubt, he's preparing and thinking about he's prepared me for this moment with these matches.
KELLY ELBIN: Keegan Bradley, thank you very, very much.
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