It was a close thing…very close.
The Travelers Championship almost had another winner of its own, well, a New England guy, hold the winner’s trophy aloft this summer. Vermont native Keegan Bradley was within one shot of the lead heading into the make-or-break 17th at the TPC River Highlands course in Cromwell in late June. For Bradley, the hole broke him, as he made double bogey, while the man he was chasing, eventual winner Chez Revie, made birdie and that was that. Bradley settled for second.
“I was just having so much fun,” Bradley quipped when all was said and done on Sunday. “The crowds were so great. It felt like a Ryder Cup for me. You just dream of that as a kid. It was just incredible. I was having the time of my life.”
He spoke of his personal final round Waterloo. “I hit a good drive on 17 and hit it in the bunker, and that is such a tough shot (across water).” His second shot from the sand went long, he chipped onto the green, missed his par putt and then missed the comebacker for a double-bogey, as he watched Revie make birdie. It was the end of what would have been a great story.
But Bradley wasn’t too dismayed by his showing and week at what he considers a home tournament.
“I got to play in front of the fans in New England and put on a show. I’ve never felt that type of support. It was such a blast out there. I imagined this as a kid coming here to the GHO and now the Travelers when I was ten years old. I was out there living it. The fans were on my side and it was so fun. I love coming and playing here. It’s one my favorite events. I’ve seen the tournament grow so much in my nine starts, and it’s become one of the premier events on the PGA Tour. I’m just very proud of the people who run the tournament and Travelers. They’ve made this home tournament of mine into something special on Tour.”
Bradley, 33, broke a six-year winless drought when he captured last year’s BMW Championship. He won the PGA Championship and Byron Nelson Championship in 2011, and has also captured a World Golf Championships event, the Bridgestone Invitational. He had earned $1.8 million this year heading into mid-July, and has pocketed over $22 million for his career.
Bradley grew up in Woodstock, Vt. and often played at Woodstock Country Club, where the members and staff continue to monitor his every move on the PGA Tour. Bradley moved to Hopkinton, Ma. with his family prior to his senior year in high school when he won the Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association Division II title. He now lives in Jupiter, Fl.
He attended St. John’s University and won nine titles during his collegiate days before turning pro in 2008. He won twice on the Hooters Tour and earned his way onto the PGA Tour by finishing 14th in the Nationwide Tour money list in 2010.
Bradley is proud of his emergence as a prominent player despite coming from a region that doesn’t produce a lot of Tour professionals.
“I flew under the radar. I grew up in Vermont. I didn’t get many looks for college, even though I felt like I was winning my whole career. Even in college I won a bunch of times at St. John’s University, but I didn’t get much credit. It’s kind of been my thing my whole career. I’m fine with it.”
He added, “Coming from New England, we play in some pretty nasty stuff. I can remember growing up playing in snow. I remember growing up in Woodstock, there came a point in the year where the golf ball you played didn’t matter. You could play TopFlite, Srixon, Pinnacle, didn’t matter and I kept as many balls as I could in my pocket. This was when I was 15 years old and hitting as many as I could.”
Who knows, now in the prime of his career, Keegan Bradley may soon hold that Travelers Championship trophy as the fans around the 18th green cheer wildly.