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February 18, 2012

Keegan Bradley


LAURA HILL:  We'd like to welcome Keegan Bradley to the interview room.  Six rounds here at Riviera and you've gotten better each and every time and now played your way into the last group, maybe a share of the lead or maybe outright.  Are you getting more comfortable out there, and talk about how you feel going into the last round.
KEEGAN BRADLEY:  Yeah, I feel very comfortable out there.  I love the golf course, fits my eye very well, and I seem to be able to figure out these greens, which makes it a lot easier.  But I love Riviera.  I love all the history about it.  Everything is really fun.

Q.  Was there any particular shot or hole today where you felt like, okay, now I'm really in this?
KEEGAN BRADLEY:  Yeah, when I made birdie on 7.  I made a really good birdie on 7.  The hole was playing really tough, and I kind of figured right there I was in it.  I birdied 10, and I had a share of the lead.  Right in that area of the course, I kind of realized that I was in this tournament, and it was a good feeling.  It was fun.

Q.  And can you describe your birdies on 7 and 10 and what did you hit?
KEEGAN BRADLEY:¬† Yeah, on 7 I hit a 3‑iron hybrid and I hit an 8‑iron in there from 178, pin was back, really tough pin, and that was probably the best birdie of the day.
On 10 I hit 3‑wood just in front.¬† Probably couldn't hit it in a more perfect spot.¬† It's a tough hole, and I just was able to two‑putt for birdie.

Q.  Would it be fun to play with Phil tomorrow?  What do you think that would be like?
KEEGAN BRADLEY:  Yeah, I really hope I do play with Phil.  That's kind of why I was excited to make that putt on the last hole.  I kind of figured that might be to get in the final group with Phil.  Yeah, I would love it.  I really hope strongly that that's how it is.

Q.  And why would you love that?
KEEGAN BRADLEY:  I really look up to him, and I watched him play a lot of Sundays growing up, and it would be really fun to play with him in the final group on Sunday at Riviera.  And any time you play with Phil means you're playing pretty well.  It just would be a lot of fun.  I enjoy the atmosphere and everything that comes with playing with Phil.

Q.  Have you played with Phil in a tournament?
KEEGAN BRADLEY:  I did.  I played with him in the first two rounds of the Barclays, so not on the weekend.  Nothing like this would be.

Q.  Can you talk about the significance of PC on your hat?
KEEGAN BRADLEY:¬† Yeah, my roommate's father passed away on Wednesday, and I got a bunch of the guys‑‑ a bunch of the guys put PC on their hats for Peter Curran.¬† That's my roommate's father.¬† I kind of feel like I've got some good luck on my side.¬† I know they're all watching.¬† I'd love to go out there and play well for him and the Curran family tomorrow.

Q.  When did you first play this course or see this course, and how did your appreciation of it grow?
KEEGAN BRADLEY:¬† I played last year was my first year on TOUR.¬† But I followed a lot about Ben Hogan.¬† My dad growing up kind of beat that into me, just the history of him here.¬† And it's one of those courses that even though you haven't played, you can recognize the holes and you can kind of remember certain shots that people hit.¬† And it's just the history, you can really feel it here.¬† It's one of the tournaments that you can‑‑ in the locker room, you can see all the past champions, and it's a course that you can really feel the history.

Q.¬† And did you remember any particular shots, watching them grow up, that when you got here you wanted to‑‑
KEEGAN BRADLEY:¬† Yeah, I remember a lot.¬† I remember Robert Allenby hitting a 5‑wood or a wood into the last hole to like two feet.¬† It's just that 10th hole is very iconic.¬† It's just a great golf course.¬† And the bunker in the middle of the green on 6, stuff like that.

Q.  You missed the cut here a year ago, if I remember, by a shot?

Q.  Do you have any idea where you have gone in the year, winning the PGA?  Hard to imagine, isn't it?  Do you ever reflect on all that?
KEEGAN BRADLEY:¬† Yeah, I three‑putted the last hole last year to miss the cut by one.¬† I was so devastated that I missed the cut, it was like‑‑ I specifically remember missing this cut just because I love the course so much and how bummed out I was.¬† I have come a long way.¬† It doesn't seem like a year ago, it seems like about five years ago.¬† I can barely remember it honestly.
It's pretty remarkable to see in one year, I get to come back here as a major champion, a tournament winner, and have a chance to win.

Q.  You said you were so devastated.  Did you just get in your car or sulk a while?
KEEGAN BRADLEY:¬† Oh, I sulked a long time actually, because I had‑‑ I had the next week off, and I basically sulked the whole week.¬† Much better feeling this time.

Q.  Are you able to discipline yourself to start the year to put last year behind you?  And secondly, could you talk about the start you've had, which has been fairly solid?
KEEGAN BRADLEY:¬† Yeah, that's been the biggest challenge so far is to put that year behind me but still remember what I did and still remember that I'm a different player today than I was last year at this time.¬† You see the best players kind of walk around with a little bit of‑‑ not cockiness but sure about themselves, and that's how I'm trying to be.
I've played very well this year.  I haven't had the top 10s, but I have had the chance to contend in some tournaments.  I had a good chance to win Sony.  Some of my finishes don't reflect on how I felt I've played.  This is much better.  This is where I feel like I could have been these last four tournaments.

Q.  Talk about going to Augusta.
KEEGAN BRADLEY:  I did.  I went to Augusta last week on Tuesday and Wednesday, went with my dad for the first time.  First time both of us had been there.  It was one of the most special couple days I've ever had in my life.  It was really, really a great time, and I look forward to going there in April.

Q.  Highlights?
KEEGAN BRADLEY:  Highlights, I made a few birdies.  Just everything about Augusta is pretty unbelievable, driving down Magnolia Lane with my dad for the first time.  When I was on the Hooters Tour, I had an event in McCormick, South Carolina, which is ten minutes away.  I drove and I had an early tee time and I decided to drive up and see Augusta.  I remember going to Subway and parking my car down Magnolia Lane on the other side and just eating and staring down Magnolia Lane and ready to rip my hair out of my head.  That was the last time I had been there.
I remember watching people go up to the gate and talk to the guard and drive in, and I just was imagining what that feeling must be like to be allowed into Augusta.¬† Getting in and having the gate‑‑ the officer look and say, yep, you guys can go was the coolest.

Q.  Did you buy anything in the shop?
KEEGAN BRADLEY:¬† Yes, I‑‑ if I didn't buy anything for my boys back home, they would have killed me, so I bought a lot of stuff.

Q.  A year ago you drive to the gate, the thick fence and the guards there.  Did you talk to them, did you say I'm a golfer or anything like that?
KEEGAN BRADLEY:  No, I was in my Ford Focus that I had the mirrors taped on with duct tape because they fell off so much.  They probably wouldn't have let me in there.  I didn't bother, but I did drive around trying to see if I could find a little crack in the wall so I could peek in.

Q.  There isn't any.
KEEGAN BRADLEY:  There isn't.  Believe me, I looked.  So it was great to be able to go there and play.

Q.  Are you at all surprised you at least at this point have a share of the lead?  Did you think Phil would go out and throw up a number that would lead you to have to chase him going into Sunday?
KEEGAN BRADLEY:  Well, with Phil there's always a chance of him going out and shooting a really low number.  But this is a very difficult golf course, so you can go out and shoot a number that I did, but you can also shoot a couple over.
But obviously I wasn't really worried about what Phil was going to do.  I knew he could do that, but I knew any time you go out and shoot a good round, you move up and you've got a better chance to win on Sunday.  I was trying not to worry about Phil.  I was watching the leaderboard a little too much early in the round, and then I stopped towards the end.  I made some good birdies coming in.

Q.  You talked about being a different player today than you were a year ago.  How so?
KEEGAN BRADLEY:  Just experience, security, being out here, and just knowledge of the courses, just going around and having been here and walking through the locker room and not being in awe a little bit.  I feel like I cemented my place out here amongst the boys.
It's just the second year on TOUR, everybody said it to me last year, and it's true, your second year on TOUR is‑‑ it's way easier, everything about it, travel, playing.¬† It's just been a lot easier out here on me.

Q.  What have you learned in the last year about contending in the final round, seeing a chance to win, and have you learned how to play differently in that situation?
KEEGAN BRADLEY:¬† Yeah, there's a lot of stuff that goes into winning.¬† I'm still learning a lot as I go.¬† Playing up against a guy like Phil or a veteran out here, I'm giving up a lot of experience to them.¬† I'm just trying to stay patient and know that good golf‑‑ if you stay patient and you just play good golf and not try to force it, you're going to be okay.¬† And sometimes that doesn't work out and sometimes it does.¬† But I've just done a good job this week of staying patient.¬† If I miss a green, I've missed it in the right spot.¬† I've been very conservative out there, which is, I think, how you kind of have to play this course.

Q.¬† Can you talk about the up‑and‑downs that kept your round going?
KEEGAN BRADLEY:¬† Yeah, that's pretty much the only thing I worked on in the off‑season was my short game with Jim McLean.¬† I just did a really good job of getting it up‑and‑down today.¬† I didn't have a lot of putts, but I did make some good putts, but a lot of it was really good chipping, which I feel as though chipping is‑‑ sometimes could be the most important part of your game because if you can get it up‑and‑down every time, it doesn't matter how many greens you hit.
So that was huge, and it's good to see that work has been paying off.

Q.  Talk about 14 when you were in the bunker.
KEEGAN BRADLEY:¬† I got up‑and‑down on 14 for par, which was huge.¬† That was a big one, because the next hole is tough.¬† That was a big one.¬† That was a good putt that I made.

Q.  How do you get in the mindset of beating a guy tomorrow like Phil who you've been in awe of?  You talked at Barclays last year about Phil Mickelson and what he's meant to you, and you were excited about giving him the advice about the putter, but getting in the mindset tomorrow to beat him.
KEEGAN BRADLEY:¬† Yeah.¬† You know, everybody has got to try their best not to just watch Phil.¬† You can go out there and shoot a 5‑, 6‑under round like I did today and just shoot right up the leaderboard. ¬†But I can promise you I do want to beat Phil, and he wants to beat me.¬† I just look forward to the challenge of going out there and being in the hunt with him.¬† Like I said, you never know what Phil is going to shoot.¬† He could shoot a really low one or not, so you've got to try not to focus on him as much.
But the thing that I do have is I have played with him a bunch, I've hung out with him, and I don't‑‑ I feel more comfortable this year than I would last year playing in the final group.¬† I've got that going for me.¬† I love Phil.¬† Everything he's done for me is great, and if I didn't win tomorrow, I would hope he would.

Q.  Do you remember your first meeting with Phil as a player?
KEEGAN BRADLEY:  Yeah, I met Phil for the first time, I was playing Houston.  I was playing with Fred Couples, who was another one of my heroes, and I was trying to play it cool.  I was sitting next to Phil and Freddie.  That was when Phil introduced himself to me, and that was the first time.  I ended up playing with him shortly after that at THE PLAYERS.  He's a very competitive guy, but he's very helpful at the same time.  I thank him for his advice and help.  But he's going to try to beat me tomorrow, and I'm going to have to try to do the same.

Q.  What, did he just come up and say, hi, I'm Phil Mickelson?
KEEGAN BRADLEY:  Yeah, kind of.  We have the same agency, so we know a lot of the same people.  That's kind of how it went, actually.  But after that we got to sit down and talk, and Bones and him have been a huge help.

Q.  What year was this?
KEEGAN BRADLEY:  This was last year.

Q.  The guys that you came on TOUR with, after you won the PGA, did they look at you and treat you differently?
KEEGAN BRADLEY:  The guys out here?

Q.  Yeah, in other words all of a sudden you're a major champion.  Do you get a sense of added respect?
KEEGAN BRADLEY:¬† Yes, absolutely, I think you do.¬† I think that amongst the veterans‑‑ you kind of have to prove yourself out here because rookies come and they go and players come and they go.¬† It's tough to get noticed.¬† And rookies stick out.¬† I've noticed it this year, you can pick a rookie out on the putting green or wherever.¬† And definitely, I think any time‑‑ the players know that I'm going to be out here for years to come and they take the time to introduce themselves.
But they've all been super nice to me from my first tournament last year until now.  I wouldn't say they're any different, it's just there is a little more respect, and it is very nice to be treated that way.
LAURA HILL:  Keegan, thanks so much.  Good luck tomorrow.

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