Full Disclosure: I have never really been a fan of Keegan Bradley (KB). I despise his use of the belly putter. I get pissed off with his start and stop antics over and over again when approaching a shot. He reminds me of a person who is about to get started with the firewalk at a Tony Robbins seminar but gets the heebie jeebies when the moment of truth arrives.
Ok, I'm ready. Here we go.
Uh, wait a minute. Does that putt break 5 or 6 inches?
OK, now I'm really ready.
Um, gotta have one more look.
At which point I just explode with something like"Geezuzarnoldpalmerandmary will you just hit the freakin' thing!!!!"
And the way he cocks his head and gives that stink eye look at his putt kinda freaks me out too.
In my Ryder Cup pool, I also bet against KB and Phil Mickelson based on the record compiled by their opponents, Luke Donald (six consecutive foursome victories) and Sergio Garcia (undefeated in foursome matches) going into Friday's match.
But, I will say this about the St. John's alum: the kid can flat out play and when he is on his game, as he was Friday at Medinah, can bring a level of energy, joy and passion to a USA team that at previous Ryder Cups would appear lacking . Bradley,winner of three PGA tour victories including the 2011 PGA Championship, is one of the biggest hitters on the tour. He is also a frequent practice partner with Mickelson (with some money on the line, of course) and the two have formed a very close personal relationship the likes of which has not been seen on the PGA Tour in some time.
The two have taken their practice sessions to Medinah and are practically inseparable though I have not yet heard of them teaming up in ping-pong.
Where Bradley can really spark Team USA and serve up the fireworks is with his putter. In the morning match, he rolled in a 25-foot birdie putt on the 15th hole to close out Garcia and Donald. Be sure to check out the helicopter job Bradley's caddie, Steve Hale, does with the flag after the putt drops. It's the best moment of Day 1 at Medinah. Bradley dropped several other lengthy putts during the day and gave his punch to the gut finish exclamation point with a little extra oomph behind it. Let's hope he takes that same killer instinct to Gleneagles in 2014.
And it's Bradley's ability to roll the rock that is the long awaited answer to the Ryder Cup Assassin, Ian Poulter. The Ryder Cup has been Poulter's personal playground for years and the excitable Englishman thrives in pressure putt situations. Poulter has never lost a singles match in Ryder Cup competition and will gladly let you know that when his career credentials are questioned. He is the one European player Americans love to hate. A Sunday matchup of Bradley vs. Poulter with the whole ball of wax on the line would be epic.
Bradley brings a similar level of joy and passion to Team USA that Poulter brings to the Euros. And it is having an impact. He speaks of playing with his idol, Mickelson, in terms of affection and privilege and honor. It is not lost on this Ryder Cup rookie that Mickelson doesn't take just anybody under his wing; you must prove yourself worthy of Lefty's time. Hey, remember that Phil is married to Amy!!
It took me a while to get over some of his mannerisms, but I have come to appreciate the talent and joy Keegan Bradley brings to the game. Hell, I might even walk across hot coals to watch him play in person.