Bradley feels he can deliver closing charge
KAPALUA – Keegan Bradley can’t wait for today.
The 2011 PGA champion fired rounds of 71 and 69 on Monday at the Hyundai Tournament of Champions in win-dy conditions on the Kapalua Plantation Course, and his 6-under par total left him in a tie for fourth with Brandt Sne-deker, five shots behind leader Dustin Johnson, going into today’s final round.
“I played so well all day,” Bradley said. “This morning, I had three or four three-putts and I missed some makable putts. This afternoon, I basically hit every green. I just have felt really solid out there.”
After playing a total of 11 holes at 3 over in rounds wiped out by weather on Friday and Sunday, Bradley was smiling on double-do-over Monday. Winds that approached 50 mph on Sunday rolled back to the 30 mph range.
“It was tough, but I guess that’s what you train for all offseason,” the 26-year-old said. “I’ve been trying to get in better shape, and I think that this has paid off because I do feel very well.”
Bradley, who finished 16th at Kapalua last year, hit 16 greens in regulation in the second round Monday.
“And I missed one by an inch or so,” he said. “So it was really solid ball-striking, a lot of fairways. I felt really good all week. I won my first tournament (the 2011 Byron Nelson Championship) in 35-mile-an-hour winds. I never considered myself a bad wind player.”
One of his other talents, apparently, is samba dancing – Bradley is doing just that in a soon-to-be-released PGA Tour commercial in which he is shown from the waist down.
“Yeah, that’s kind of my thing,” he said with a chuckle.
More important, of course, is the chance for a win today.
“I’m so pumped to be in the heat and ready to go out there tomorrow in the last couple groups,” he said. “That’s what I live for.”
Bradley has three tour titles in his career – he qualified for this year’s Maui field with a victory in the Bridgestone Invitational in August.
“It’s weird to think that tomorrow is Sunday and I’m right there with 18 holes to play. So it’s cool, it’s going to be fun.”
Bradley said he was hitting unfamiliar shots all day long, from both sides of the wind.
“I’ve been hitting 8-irons from 100 yards,” he said. “I hit a 9-iron today from 185. I hit a 7-iron from 236, and I also hit 7 from 130. So, you know, yardages don’t really matter.”
One of three players in the field who uses a belly putter that is three years from a possible ban on tour, he employed the flatstick well on Monday.
“Everything’s really difficult, but the putting is really tough,” Bradley said. “A couple times today I was purposely missing on the side of where I would have an uphill putt. I would rather have seven, eight feet uphill than three downwind, down-grain. It’s a challenge out there, for sure.”
* Robert Collias is at email@example.com