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August 13, 2011

Keegan Bradley


KELLY ELBIN: Keegan Bradley joining us in at 1-under par 69 in the third round of the 93rd PGA Championship. Keegan is one stroke back of the co-leaders, Brendan Steele and Jason Dufner with one round to go. Congratulations on your play today. A little bit of a rocky start but kind of a strong finish on the back nine. Comments on the round?
KEEGAN BRADLEY: Yeah, I had a tough first hole, and I really calmed down after that. It didn't bother me that much at all.
I played great. It was fun playing with Jason. He's a relaxed guy, and I just had a blast out there today. It was fun coming up 18, last group on Saturday when the sun is coming down, we played so late. It was pretty cool.
KELLY ELBIN: You had four birdies, 3, 5, 6 and 12. Can you just go through the quick irons you hit in there and the length of the putts, please.
KEEGAN BRADLEY: Yeah, on 3 I hit driver, 9-iron to about six feet and made that little right-to-lefter.
And then on 5, the par-5, I hit driver, 3-wood, pulled it a little bit and it hit the tree and came down and I made a nice up-and-down, made about a five-footer for birdie there.
On 6 I hit hybrid off the tee and a wedge to about 18 feet, made that.
And then on 12, the par-5, I hit driver, 6-iron to about 35 feet and made about a two and a half footer for birdie.

Q. I was following you, you missed makeable birdie putts on 13, 14, 17 and 18 or something like that. Is that kind of frustrating? Can you talk about those putts?
KEEGAN BRADLEY: No, actually I had -- the putt on 17 was really tough. I mean, it was fast and could have got away from me. 18, I mean, that green that late in the day, that putt was so fast -- I actually played a little extra break because I knew it was going to be fast. I watched Jason's putt. I mean, it went flying by there. I actually made a great three and a half footer coming back for par. Of course you always look back and think you can make more putts, but I'm actually very happy with the way I putted, and the putts that I missed were really good putts. On 17 I thought I made it for about three quarters of the way.
It's always frustrating to miss putts, but I made my fair share today. I made some really good par putts that helped save the round.

Q. You've credited Pepsi, your caddie, for a lot of things like convincing you to play in the Byron Nelson instead of the Colonial because it suited your game more and then you won the Byron obviously. How much has having an experienced caddie like Pepsi helped you, and can you talk a little bit Pepsi and how much --
KEEGAN BRADLEY: Yeah, Pepsi, I picked Pepsi up, he was caddying for one of my best friends out here, Jamie Lovemark. We played -- me and Jamie played every practice round together before he got hurt, and then once Jamie got hurt, I was making a caddie change and it just so happened to work out, and me and Pepsi have been a great fit.
He's a great guy. He's very well prepared. He's real quick with yardages, which I like. I know that's a little strange, but he's very calming out there to me because it feels like he's comfortable, he knows what's going on, and without Pepsi, a lot of the times out here I'd be a little lost. So we make a great team. He's a great guy, and I saw him -- he actually walked out earlier this morning and spoke to some of the hole marshals and hid some Pepsis for him in the bottom of the cooler, so when he came around, they handed it to them, which was cool.

Q. But is it a huge benefit that he knows a lot of these courses?
KEEGAN BRADLEY: Yeah, as a rookie you've got to have a guy that's been out here and knows where the pins are going to be. He's been through a lot out here, and without an experienced caddie, us rookies have some trouble, and he's been around this PGA TOUR circuit for probably 15 years. He knows every pin, he knows every break. So it's a huge advantage.

Q. A lot of people have had some great things to say about your game and your season this year. I'm wondering firstly why do you think you've taken to the Tour so quickly, and secondly, do you feel prepared to kind of step up to a new level?
KEEGAN BRADLEY: I credit the Nationwide Tour a lot for a lot of my success out here. They do a great job of preparing us for this level. They can't do everything because there's a lot of stuff out here that you can't be prepared for, but the Nationwide Tour -- and I've worked very hard, and I've always wanted to be here, so when I did get here, I felt a little more prepared than maybe another rookie.
But I feel very comfortable. I grew up watching my Aunt Pat play tournaments my whole life and always wanted to be inside the ropes and do what she did. I just kind of tried to copy everything that she did and does. It's kind of had me prepared for -- a little more prepared, I think, for this stage.

Q. Do you feel ready to make a jump from where you are right now?
KEEGAN BRADLEY: Yeah, I feel -- it's actually very -- it's almost surprising to me how comfortable I do feel out there. I've had some good pairings. Jason is a great guy, but I feel very comfortable, and I think every player wants to win tournaments and every player wants to win majors, which is -- it's really, really fun for me to be out there in the mix in this PGA Championship, and it's -- it's really fun.

Q. What length putter do you use? When did you start using that style putter, and was there ever any sort of mental hurdle you had to get over about not using a traditional putter?
KEEGAN BRADLEY: Yeah, I use a 46 and one quarter inch belly putter. You know, I kind of took to it right away. I've been using it for over two years now, about two and a half years, and I'm a lifer. I won't be switching any time soon. I feel great over it.
It's funny, at the beginning, even just two and a half years ago, they'd see me out on the putting green, some of the -- at the course I played at, some of the old timers would go, you're too young to be using a long putter. But now it's very acceptable. I can't tell you how many times I'm in a group where every single guy has got an unconventional putter, especially young guys. But it's a great tool to have, especially in pressure situations, because you just put that right in your belly and it's not going anywhere.

Q. Some of the veteran players seem to be a little uncomfortable with the difficulty of the final four holes. Your thoughts on playing those? Are they too tough?
KEEGAN BRADLEY: I think the PGA is doing a great job setting up those last four holes. I mean, they're tough holes, but everybody has got to play them the same way. I mean, 18 is a very, very tough hole. I mean, it's a par-5 that we're playing as a par-4. The way I look at it is if you do happen to have to lay up, it's actually a pretty easy wedge shot. If it was a par-5, you'd make 4 on it -- you'd think, this is the easiest hole ever. But since it's a par-4, people kind of freak out a little bit.
But I think they're very challenging holes, but I think the PGA has done a great job setting it up so far. It's good to make pars on those holes, though, for sure.

Q. Can you just talk about the dynamic between you and Brendan and what that might be like in successive groups tomorrow?
KEEGAN BRADLEY: Yeah, it was cool looking up at the leaderboard today and seeing Steele make birdie after birdie. It was calming to me actually. He's one of my good buddies out here. It's going to be really fun. If you would have told us this -- I remember we played last year in Chattanooga, Nationwide Tour, and we were both kind of near the lead and there was nobody around. We were just out there playing. If we would have said we'd be in a couple of the final groups on Sunday at the PGA, I think we both would have kind of laughed at each other. It's going to be really fun. I can't wait to see him. I'm sure we'll text each other. I'll bet you I've got even a text from him in my phone now.

Q. People probably ask you this all season, but how did you -- people don't realize that St. John's plays golf as well as basketball. How did you end up at St. John's?
KEEGAN BRADLEY: I'm from the northeast, from Vermont, and it's kind of cool to stay home in the northeast, and a lot of the programs up in that area suffer because a lot of the good players go south. But also, it's a great University with a great program, and I don't think I'd be here without St. John's. They treated me very well. The guys on the team are my best friends still today.
St. John's actually turns out a lot of really good players. There's a lot of St. John's guys that have played in this tournament as PGA head pros, and I get to play some of the best courses in the country for four years, so it was great.

Q. I know you're a sports fan, a Sox fan, but as fans, people have been wondering what about the Americans. There have been six straight non-American major championship winners, and now you have five guys at the top of the leaderboard who are Americans. If it's not you, would you like to see somebody else win who is an American tomorrow?
KEEGAN BRADLEY: Yeah, I mean, it's -- I think what's happening, there's just a lot of really good players from all around the world now. I'd love to see an American win. You know, it's not for a lack of trying. I know we all are trying to win and want to win tournaments. It would be great -- if it's not me, it would be great to see Steele win. But I know us Americans want to win tournaments, and it would be great to see an American win a major. It's been, like you said, a drought. We're going to try our hardest tomorrow, I promise you.

Q. Sort of to follow up on that point, we've been waiting for the next young American superstar, and whether it's Rickie Fowler or Dustin Johnson, Anthony Kim. Can you be that guy?
KEEGAN BRADLEY: You know, it's kind of a -- I'd like to play like those guys for sure. I'm just a rookie starting out. You know, I've got a long way to be a superstar. But I'd love to be up there in that category with those guys. That's why I play. I know it's why a lot of guys play.
But I mean, I'm going to try my hardest to win as much as I can, and I've got a good chance tomorrow in a major. So it's kind of amazing even sitting up here right now, it's hard to believe. So I'm going to try my hardest.

Q. You Tweeted something about Jim Furyk giving you credit on TV about the belly putter. That was your highlight of your day. What was the advice or what was the conversation you had with Jim and when did that happen?
KEEGAN BRADLEY: I wouldn't call it advice. He came up to me -- every week out here for me personally, something happens where I can't believe it, like I walk away going, that's unbelievable. And I was in the locker room at the Canadian Open, and Jim came up and asked me just some questions about the belly putter. He was thinking of going and using it.
I saw him earlier in the week, and he said, I'm doing everything you said, you're going to either get all the credit or all the blame. It's kind of crazy and super fun, I guess, to think that Jim Furyk is even talking to me, let alone taking some advice about a belly putter. He's one of my idols and people that I looked up to my whole life, so it's kind of a neat thing to overhear him saying my name in an interview.

Q. What was the advice that you gave him?
KEEGAN BRADLEY: Something to do with like the length of a belly putter, no technical stroke stuff, just how long my belly putter is. We're actually very similar build. Some of the things that I do with my hands on the belly putter. I wasn't giving him any advice, that's for sure, because he's a great putter. I was just kind of letting him know what my belly putter was like.

Q. You were a competitive skier, I guess. Can you explain a little bit about that and how that may have helped you possibly in golf?
KEEGAN BRADLEY: Yeah, I grew up in Vermont, and I think it was great, a lot of people ask why I didn't go south to play. I had a good solid chunk off from playing golf. When it started to snow, I put the clubs in the basement. I mean, I didn't even touch them, and skied. When the snow started to melt, I couldn't wait to get my clubs out again. I think now it's paying off. But skiing and golf are similar. When you're starting off, you're in that starting gate all by yourself with that scary course in front of you. It is kind of similar to standing on that 18th tee with maybe a one-shot lead or in the first tee. It's just you by yourself, and actually skiing is a little more intense. This is easy compared to that.
It's helped me a lot. Skiing and golf have a lot of similarities in terms of it's very mental, and it's helped me, for sure.

Q. Where did you ski mostly when you grew up in Vermont?
KEEGAN BRADLEY: I grew up skiing at a place called Suicide Six in Pomfret, Vermont.

Q. As it related to last week, you went into Sunday last week in great position, and I'm wondering what you learned out of that and how you were able to get yourself out of that first hole today and kind of birdie three out of the next five holes?
KEEGAN BRADLEY: Yeah, to be honest with you, I kind of got a bad break in my second shot. I knew I didn't hit that bad a shot. My goal today was to underreact to everything that happened, whether it was good or bad. I'm very proud of myself with the way I handled that first hole because I actually felt great. I mean, I had a nice -- me and Pepsi were walking down the second fairway kind of joking around, and I honestly, from after that shot, I didn't really miss a shot that badly. I three-putted one hole and I missed a fairway on 16 by about six inches.
Other than that, I played great. I mean, I did go through a pretty tough stretch there on Sunday last week, but that's the type of stuff that kind of makes you stronger and will help me tomorrow.

Q. You mentioned earlier about Chattanooga last year in October. Were you and Brendan actually paired together, and if so, take me through that final round, and is it something you can look back on tomorrow?
KEEGAN BRADLEY: You know, me and Steele are good buddies. We play a lot of practice rounds together. We have the same agent, Ben Harrison with Gaylord Sports, and Steele is a great guy, and we got paired together a lot last year. But this time in Chattanooga, I think it was in the third round, we got paired together, and that was really the first time we got to know each other. He's a great player. I love playing with Steele. He's also a fellow belly putter. He's in the club with that, and he's -- it's unbelievable to think that we're both going to be in consecutive groups, last and second to last tomorrow. I'm sure it'll be pretty fun seeing each other out there tomorrow.
KELLY ELBIN: Keegan Bradley, one back with one round to go in the PGA Championship.

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