BROOKLINE, Mass. ( Associated Press) — As a kid in Vermont, Keegan Bradley always wondered what it would look like to be Larry Bird or Carlton Fisk or Tom Brady, or any of those Boston greats whose posters were like bedrooms in New England. Do plaster on the walls.
Bradley received full treatment on Saturday at the US Open.
A broad chorus of “Ki-Gan, Ki-Gan, Ki-Gan” greeted the local favorite as they approached the 18th fairway at The Country Club. He was on his way to level and complete a round of 1-under 69, which left him at 2 under for the tournament, only a two-shot lead.
“Honestly, it was one of the most amazing moments of my entire life,” said Bradley, the 2011 PGA champion and four-time winner on the PGA Tour. “I felt what it was like to play at Fenway, play in the Garden, play at Gillette Stadium. I felt like a Boston player there. ,
Still stinging from the Celtics’ defeat in the NBA Finals, Boston fans were looking for something, anything, for the weekend that would no longer include Game 7. He got it as a 36-year-old father. Of the two whose aunt, Pat Bradley, is a six-time major champion and whose wife’s uncle is none other than Hall of Fame Red Sox catcher, Fisk.
Playing in the windy, cold conditions that turned The Country Club into a “beast,” Bradley started off slow, in the words of co-leader Will Zalatoris. He made three bogeys in his first six holes.
But he played the last 12 holes in four unders. The game-changer came at No. 9, where he hit his approach to 12 feet and made the putt to buzz the grandstand.
“I made the putts, and they went wild,” Bradley said. “It really gave me a jolt of energy. It put me on a path like, ‘Okay, we’re not trying to save this round anymore. Let’s try to get ourselves into controversy here,'” And so did I.”
It’s a moment that has been building up for Bradley for seven years, ever since the USGA made a somewhat major announcement that it was bringing the US Open back to the Boston area.
“Well, I saw it was on schedule, I was kind of like, ‘Wow, that’s a little surprising. I’m pumped for this,'” Bradley said.
Earning a spot at the US Open wasn’t a problem for Bradley—until last year, who didn’t take the field for the first time in a decade. As this year’s tournament drew to a close, he began to have a better understanding of the lack of thorough discussion among his friends and family about the upcoming US Open. He finally secured his spot last month.
“I thought it was weird,” he said. “Then, as soon as I qualified, everyone is texting, excited to come, and let’s get some tickets.”
They have a chance to further cement their place among a significant group of champion golfers in the region.
This is a list that, of course, begins with Frances Ouimet, who lived across the street from The Country Club and helped put golf on the map in America with her upset victory in 1913. There are Harriet and Margaret Curtis, whose last name is stamped on the cup that goes to the winner of the biennial women’s amateur matches against Britain and Ireland after beating the US. Also, Keegan’s aunt. Pat Bradley won the US Women’s Open in 1981.
Walking down the fairway on Saturday, Bradley said he saw and heard friends, and aunts and uncles walk out of the gallery. By the end of the day, everyone was family.
“The crowd, as always here in Boston, I think are the best in the world,” he said.
It could be better.
A week that began with throwing the first pitch at Fenway Park would end with him walking that 18th fairway again, this time possibly with a US Open title.
“It’s going to be intense, but this week I have this weird kind of calm,” Bradley said. I don’t know if he’ll be here tomorrow, but I just have to try to put one foot in front of the other and all the silly things we all say.”
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