IRVING, Texas - As Keegan Bradley tells it, he wasn't ever supposed to be in Texas this week. When he was looking at his schedule after leaving the Players Championship, Bradley suggested to his caddie Steve "Pepsi" Hale that they play the week before the HP Byron Nelson Championship at Colonial and take the following week off.
"I was going to play Colonial and take this week off. Pepsi, God bless him, he said, 'I really think this course fits you better,'" Bradley said. "I don't know what he knew but he was right. Thank God I took last week off."
It's a good thing Bradley didn't follow his gut, and instead decided to takes Hale's advice. The decision not only allowed Bradley to capture his first PGA Tour victory in a heart-pounding playoff, it also enabled him to pick up a two-year exemption and place in next year's Masters field. It was a surreal moment for a guy who's seemingly gone under-the-radar for his entire golf career.
Even when Bradley was making on a run at the leaders in the final round, he still wasn't the biggest draw in his group. Paired with 17-year-old amateur sensation Jordan Spieth, Bradley actually said it was a "bit of a relief" to play with the big draw and go unnoticed by almost everyone at the tournament.
"That's been kind of my role my whole career, I flew under the radar," Bradley said. "I grew up in Vermont. I didn't get many looks for college, even though I felt like I was winning my whole career, even in college I won a bunch of times at St. John's University in New York, I didn't get much credit. It's kinda been my thing my whole career. ... I hope to someday not go under the radar, but I'm fine with it."
After Sunday's win, Bradley, just 24 years old, has his wish: he's squarely in the spotlight. With so many young players in the game today, it's hard to make a name for yourself. And while Bradley may not have the on-course charisma of Matteo Manassero or the name recognition of Rickie Fowler, he has something neither player has: a victory on the PGA Tour.
With Hall of Fame Aunt Pat Bradley in his corner for advice and his first tour victory behind him, Keegan Bradley is in a perfect position to make some noise this summer, especially now that he doesn't have to worry about the tour reshuffle on a weekly basis.
This time, however, if he does get into contention again, he won't have the luxury of going under-the-radar. After Sunday's win, Bradley is now a name we should all take notice of for the foreseeable future. Winning for the first time on the PGA Tour will do that you.