By David Miles
One of the perks of Keegan Bradley’s fantastic rookie season on the PGA Tour comes in the form of invitations to some of the so-called “silly season” events, a series of unofficial tournaments that make up the very end of the yearly golfing calendar. Two weeks ago, for example, Bradley finished 17th in the Chevron World Challenge in Thousand Oaks, California, taking home another $145,000 in unofficial prize money. (Unofficial prize money does spend just the same!)
Then he flew cross-country (“home” to Florida) to compete in the Franklin Templeton Shootout, partnering with fellow PGA Tour rookie Brendan Steele in this team event. Three rounds were played, each with a different format: alternate shot, better ball, and scramble. Scores in these team events are typically way under par. Greg Norman is the host for this event, formerly known as the Shark Shootout.
Bradley and Steele, the youngest duo, were tied for the lead after the first day, with the oldest team, Nick Price and Mark Calcavecchia, veterans from the Champions Tours (over 50) at nine-under par. With a second day ten-under par score for the better ball event, the rookies led by one going into the final round.
And on the last day they really got hot as the day wore on. Bradley said, “We got off to a slow start, kind of like we did all three days, but we played this last stretch of holes really well.
That is an understatement. Beginning with the sixth hole, the Bradley-Steele duo put together a string of eight birdies and one eagle over nine holes to take control. This propelled them to a final-round score of 59, 13 strokes under par. The result was a relatively easy three-stroke victory as they split the purse and each took home $375,000 for the victory.
Combining official and unofficial prize money, Bradley’s total earnings top $4.8 million this year. Not bad for someone who, in reality, was trying to keep his playing card and instead won four tournaments and will, in all likelihood, be named Rookie of the Year when the season-ending awards are announced.
Bradley commented that when he saw players he competed with on the Nationwide Tour move up and succeed on the PGA Tour, “I would go ‘Okay, well, I’ve played with him. I know how he plays. I know I can stay with him. If he can do it out there, so can I.” Bradley not only stayed with them, he surpassed them all in his remarkable 2011 season.
This article first appeared in the December 15th edition of the Vermont Standard.