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June 26, 2013

Keegan Bradley

Don Padgett

CHRIS REIMER:  We are pleased today to have our defending champion for the 2013 World Golf Championships Bridgestone Invitational, Keegan Bradley, on the line with us today.  It's been a strong year for you in 2013 with several Top‑10 finishes, a runner‑up finish at the HP Byron Nelson.
Maybe looking back first to last year's Bridgestone Invitational tournament where it looked like Jim Furyk had it going all four days and all of a sudden there you are on the final hole with a chance to win, and what you seem to always do when you have that putt in a clinching moment when it's winning time, you just poured it in.  Maybe start with some opening comments looking back at last year's victory.
KEEGAN BRADLEY:  Yeah, thanks for having me.  I'm thrilled to come back this year and defend at Akron.  I think a lot of players would say it's their favorite event of the year, one of their favorite courses to play.
It was just an unbelievable week.  And I got to have a chance on the last hole to win the tournament, which doesn't happen very often.  I'm very proud to be part of the past champions of that course, for sure, with a lot of the best names that have ever played the game.  It's a really special place for me and excited to come back.
CHRIS REIMER:  I'd love to go to Don Padgett, who I know is with a number of the media who have gathered today for today's call, so we can open our line to the Executive Director of the event and get started.
DON PADGETT III:  Thanks, Chris.

Q.  I think a lot of people might forget that the way you won last year, with the putt on the last hole, that you were like six shots down, or three shots down with six to play, or six down with 13 to play, some ungodly number, and yet you came back to win.  Is Firestone a course that kind of lends itself to coming from behind, or no?
KEEGAN BRADLEY:  You know, I think that Firestone, any course that's difficult, you can come back on, because people are going to make bogeys.
Firestone, if you hit the ball on the fairway, yeah, you're going to have a lot of good chances for birdie.  But if you hit it in the rough or in the trees there, obviously you're going to be making a lot of bogeys.
I played really well.  Jim Furyk and Louis Oosthuizen got off to really good starts, and then I made a bunch of pars and really got it going.  Those holes out there are difficult, but if you hit really good shots, with those greens, you can make any putt.
So I was able to kind of hang in there when I was way back, and I kept chipping away.  And then you know, sure enough, I had a chance on the last hole.

Q.  Are you over the mourning of the Bruins?
KEEGAN BRADLEY:  Yeah.  I was up there for Game 6, and it was a disappointing end to the season, but proud of the guys.  They did a great job.

Q.  You've probably been asked this question a thousand times, and I'd like to hear your thoughts on the long putter situation, how do you feel about it?  Do you have any ideas, any thoughts?
KEEGAN BRADLEY:  Yeah, I don't agree with what the USGA is saying, but I do respect what they are trying to do.  They are trying to protect the game in different ways which is what they think they need to do in terms of the putter.
In 2016 when it comes time to make a change, I'll do that.  There's one thing I never doubt, and it's my work ethic.  I'm not afraid to put time in, and once the time comes for me to switch to a different putter, I'll be ready to do it.

Q.  Will you stay with the long putter, or will you go to the conventional putter?
KEEGAN BRADLEY:  You know, I haven't even put much thought into it.  During this off‑season when I have a little time where I'm not playing every week, maybe I'll come up with a plan.  But as of right now, I'm sticking with the belly putter.

Q.  Of the holes here at Firestone, which one stands out in your mind?
KEEGAN BRADLEY:  I think that the 16th hole there, that par 5, is always a big hole.  Jim made a long putt for birdie there.  I was able to make one on top of him and I think that was a big moment in the tournament.  You know, that hole, you can make a birdie, but you can make bogey or worse, really easily.  That's a hole that really sticks out.

Q.  Did you hit driver there?

Q.  You talk about how stressful this tournament is; obviously the field is international and it's the best in golf.  What else makes it such a special event?
KEEGAN BRADLEY:  Well, Akron and Firestone Country Club has some of the best history that we have in golf.  Everybody that's ever ‑‑ you look at the names that have all won and played there; and Tiger, he's won there a million times.  Any time you walk around that clubhouse, and they have the pictures of all the champions up there, it's anybody you've ever heard of.  So the history of the course and the golf course and the town, it's really one of the special events that we get to play in.

Q.  You mentioned Tiger; he's won at least seven times.  Obviously the gap has closed on the TOUR and we look at who is winning Majors right now.  It seems like there are many elite players here on the TOUR right now?
KEEGAN BRADLEY:  Yeah, I think the TOUR is as deep as it's ever been by a long shot.  You've got guys that are ready to win.  I think that you're seeing a generation of players that grew up watching Tiger Woods play; meaning myself.  We've been hearing him talk about winning.  That's all he wants to do.
I think you've seen younger guys come out on TOUR ready to win, that want to win, which I don't think may have been the case 20, 30 years ago.  I think the younger players on TOUR are out here to win tournaments and I think that's a result of watching Tiger play.

Q.  You just touched on this a little bit.  I'm interested in how difficult the season is mentally.  We've seen some great players win a tournament‑‑  and the next week they miss the cut or just barely squeak in.  How difficult is the grind beyond the difficulty of the golf course?
KEEGAN BRADLEY:  It's brutal, because it's a marathon, not a sprint.  I'm coming to realize that you're going to have good months and you're going to have bad months.
It's tough, because you feel like you should play well every week.  It's very difficult, because you go to a new city, different type of grass, you go to short courses, long courses.  So there's going to be some up and downs.  I think the best players in the world don't have as many up‑and‑down years.  They are the guys that you see every week that are consistent, and that's what makes them great.
You're going to have some tough weeks, and it's tough to stay mentally sharp, because you can start getting upset and getting down on yourself, but the great players bounce back and play well.

Q.  Wondering what your story line that jumped out to you from Merion was, and your thoughts on Justin's win, and what focus that allows for him to have moving forward this season.
KEEGAN BRADLEY:  Yeah, Justin is an unbelievable player.  He's been one of the best players in the world for the last couple of years.  Him winning a major‑‑ when I won mine, I was a rookie and nobody ever heard of me; it was a huge adjustment.  For him, I think he's going to be able to fit in real nicely and contend and play well the rest of the year.
I think that Merion was very difficult.  Some of the holes were‑‑ it's very U.S. Open, USGA setup.  There wasn't a birdie on the last hole for the last two days of the tournament, which I don't totally agree with; but the course was difficult and tricky, which is exactly what they wanted.

Q.  Obviously the win last year; is there something that Firestone that really suits your game?  In the year prior, you had kind of a breakout‑‑ not really as well known, and had a surge over the weekend here.
KEEGAN BRADLEY:  Yeah, the course is perfect for me.  You must drive the ball well there.  If you don't, you're not going to be able to score.  I think that you've got to putt well, and the greens there are the type of grass I grew up on in New England.  It's a course that I've felt comfortable on the last two years, and one that I feel like every time I play, that I should have a decent shot to win the tournament.

Q.  Everybody says after you win a Major that it changes your life; did you find that to be true in your life after you won the PGA?
KEEGAN BRADLEY:  Yeah, definitely.  Before I had won a major, no one really knew who I was, and then overnight, I became‑‑ where people knew who I was and I had to adjust at the golf course and with everything; it changed everything that I do, but all in good ways.  It's something that if you win a Major, really, you crave it, to do it again.  I'm trying to base my schedule and the way I work my golf to at golf to suit myself for Majors.

Q.  Everybody talks about THE PLAYERS being a possible fifth Major.  Do you believe that?  Do you see it that way?
KEEGAN BRADLEY:  Yeah, it's our PGA TOUR's premiere event.  It's a big purse with the best players in the world.  It's a tricky golf course, so any time you get that, it's definitely a premiere event.

Q.  You were talking earlier about the mental part of the game.  I'm curious, are you learning more about how to put a bad day behind you, especially a Sunday, or is that something that maybe you're good at when you're a kid or do you need to learn that?
KEEGAN BRADLEY:  Yeah, I think you need to learn to handle life on TOUR.  All it is, it takes time; it takes years out here, tournaments.  But tough Sundays are brutal.  You've got to learn from them and try to bring the stuff that you learned to the next week and hopefully play better.

Q.  How would you describe yourself in that regard?  Are you a guy that doesn't carry that stuff very long?
KEEGAN BRADLEY:  Yeah, I don't think that you do.  I haven't had a Sunday yet where it's been really brutal on me, and I hope to never.
But I talk to the veterans, and they have kind of tried to help me on how to handle Sundays.  But it's tough when you don't win and you think you should have; it will stay with you for a little while, but it's important to put that in the past.

Q.  One more about last year, besides the last hole, do you have a favorite moment or something that happened, or maybe when you realized you had a shot at this thing?
KEEGAN BRADLEY:  Yeah, you know, like I said, the 16th hole, after I made that putt on top of Jim, was a moment that I think changed the entire tournament.
But you know, after I made that putt on the last hole and Jim missed his putt to tie me, it was kind of surreal to think that it was over; that I had won.  It was tough to kind of‑‑ kept looking at the leaderboard and thinking, there has to be something that could go against me here.  But I had won the tournament.  It was just a surreal feeling.
CHRIS REIMER:  Thanks again, Keegan.  Don, anything else you want to share?
DON PADGETT III:  Just wanted to thank everybody for participating today.  The Bridgestone Invitational is almost a month away, so it's right around the corner.  The course is in great shape.  We started the build‑out, and we look forward to welcoming the word's best players back to Firestone and to have Keegan defend his title.  Keegan, really appreciate you calling in today.
We look forward to having Jack Nicklaus as our Ambassador of Golf.  We're doing a public ceremony, if you have a tournament ticket on Wednesday, July 31 at 5:30.  Our Firestone Village is a new spectator area behind the 10th green that we are excited about with a social media area and a new food court.  So continue to improve the amenities for our Patrons.
And we always like to talk about 18 and under get in free with a ticketed adult, as well as active and retired military and their families as a way of saying thank you to the men and women that serve our country.
Looking forward to a great event, and Keegan, look forward to having you back here very soon.
KEEGAN BRADLEY:  Thanks, guys.
CHRIS REIMER:  Thanks to all the media for participating and like Don said, look forward to seeing everybody out at Firestone.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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