125 of the best professional golfers in the world have gathered for The Barclays, to be played August 23-26, 2012, at Bethpage Black in Farmingdale, New York. Much of the attention is being given to the marquee match-up of Rory McIlroy v. Tiger Woods. This is one fan's opinion of why Keegan Bradley may be hoisting the winner's trophy on Sunday, August 26th.
2011 Rookie of the Year: A native of Woodstock, Vermont, Keegan Bradley won twice on the PGA Tour in 2011, at the Byron Nelson Championship in May and the PGA Championship in August. His two victories, including his first major championship, earned him Rookie of the Year honors. There has been no sophomore slump in 2012, as the 26-year-old has claimed his third career victory, finished second in a playoff, and added a third place finish in another major.
Currently Hot: Having made the cut in eight of his last nine events (including three majors), Keegan is coming to The Barclays as the hottest player on Tour. In his two most recent tournaments he has done much more than just make the cut, lifting the winner's trophy at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational on August 5th and finishing third at the PGA Championship on August 12th. Bradley is becoming one of the few to be a contender every time he tees it up.
Favorable Pairing: Keegan will play the first two rounds with Matt Kuchar and Steve Stricker, two even-tempered and consistently strong veterans who should help him stay relaxed. In addition, playing one group away from the featured pairing of Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy and Zach Johnson, he'll be able to see everything that's going on without being in the center of attention.
Bethpage Black: The Barclays is being played on the Black Course at Bethpage State Park, a very difficult layout where birdies are hard to come by. In fact, in two U.S. Opens held at Bethpage Black (2002 and 2009) only two golfers have scored under par overall, Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson. Many otherwise successful professionals have struggled on the Black Course.
Keegan Bradley, however, has described Bethpage Black as his favorite course in the world. As a member of the golf team at nearby St. John's University, in Queens, he may have played the course 30 times. There will be few, if any, others in the field at The Barclays who are as familiar with Bethpage Black as is Keegan Bradley.
In his interview on August 22nd, the day before the tournament begins, Bradley certainly appeared to be confident, comfortable, and ready to go. Three qualities that may put him at or near the top of the leaderboard.
Harold Andrews has played golf (competitively and recreationally) for nearly 50 years. He considers Jack Nicklaus the greatest golfer of all time.