Kiawah Island, South Carolina: There is something about the latter half of the golf season that suits in-form Keegan Bradley to a tee and he plans to use that to his advantage for his PGA Championship title defence this week.
Twelve months ago, the-then PGA Tour rookie clinched his first major title with a play-off victory over fellow American Jason Dufner, the highlight of a storming finish to his maiden campaign on the US circuit.
I enjoy all that comes with winning major championships and tournaments, but I try to keep everything the same.”
Bradley ended his 2011 season with seven top-15 places in 28 starts, five of them — including two wins — coming in the last five months. He also triumphed at the elite four-man PGA Grand Slam of Golf in October.
The Vermont native has already recorded seven top-15s in 2012, the most recent a stunning one-shot victory at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational on Sunday, which has given him the perfect build-up to the year’s final major championship.
“I’m trying to do the exact same stuff as last year,” Bradley said of his preparations for Thursday’s opening round on the ultra-long Ocean Course at Kiawah Island Golf Resort.
“The biggest key is to keep everything constant, what I’ve always done, and I feel as though I’m doing that.
“About this time last year is when I really started to get it rolling. I went on a seven-month stretch of great golf. I love these golf courses at the end of the year. I love the atmosphere of major championships.”
At last year’s PGA Championship, Bradley became the first player to claim a grand slam crown in his maiden major start since fellow American Ben Curtis at the 2003 British Open.
“It does seem sometimes like a dream,” Bradley said while reflecting on his breakthrough victory at the game’s highest level. “I’m not able to watch the replays of the PGA. I get too nervous.
“Part of me is amazed that it happened. I think back on it and about how different my life would be if I didn’t win that PGA or if I lost that playoff. It’s kind of a brutal thing to think about.”
While Bradley’s status as a golfer has soared since that heady afternoon a year ago at a sun-splashed Atlanta Athletic Club, he says his private life has remained exactly the same.
“It’s not changed at all off the golf course with my buddies and my friends,” the 26-year-old added. “I enjoy all that comes with winning major championships and tournaments, but I try to keep everything the same.
“There are specific things that have changed dramatically, but I try to keep my life the same. I’m the same kid that grew up in Boston and Vermont that I am now.”
If the allure of winning major titles can be like a drug for the game’s best players, Bradley has certainly become an instant addict.
“The feeling of winning a major is something that’s the most unbelievable feeling, and as a player, you crave that,” said the slender American, a nephew of LPGA great and World Golf Hall of Famer Pat Bradley.
“So I really want to focus in on contending and winning majors. This was a tough year for me because of playing in my first Masters, US Open and British Open but now I’ve got that behind me.
“I think the next go-around of all those majors, I’ll be able to really start focusing in on contending and playing well, because I think they all suit my game pretty well.”
Hole Yards Par Hole Yards Par
1 396 4 10 447 4
2 557 5 11 593 5
3 390 4 12 412 4
4 458 4 13 497 4
5 188 3 14 238 3
6 480 4 15 444 4
7 579 5 16 581 5
8 198 3 17 223 3
9 494 4 18 501 4
Out 3,740 36 In 3,936 36
Total 7,676 72