EDITOR'S NOTE: PGA TOUR media official Mark Stevens recently sat down for a Q&A with Michael Bradley, who defends his title at the Puerto Rico Open presented by Banco Popular this week. Bradley, who been plagued by back injuries during his career, broke an 11-year victory drought when he won his third PGA TOUR event last year. This article ran in El Nuevo Dia on March 5, 2010.
PGATOUR.COM: What are your thoughts as you return to Puerto Rico?
BRADLEY: It will be a lot of fun to defend this year. I imagine the course will be in perfect shape. I want to play well and have the opportunity to win. I am realistic, however, and at the end of the day I hope I have a tee time on Saturday after the cut. I realize how good the players are on TOUR and it is a battle each and every week.
PGATOUR.COM: What did the win in Puerto Rico mean to you last year?
BRADLEY: It was nice in terms of feeling I can still win on TOUR and even more it was nice knowing that I can get in position to have the opportunity to win. Getting yourself into position to win is tough on the PGA TOUR. It was special to be in the lead group again after going through my back injuries. Winning in Puerto Rico was like getting a three-year exemption because it was so early in the year. After having success early in my career it is very rewarding to win at age 43.
PGATOUR.COM: What do you think of Puerto Rico?
BRADLEY: I really enjoyed Puerto Rico. It is very beautiful and the golf course was in great shape and very fair. The fans were very knowledgeable and respectful. I told (tournament director) Sidney Wolfe they should be very proud of the event. They had 40,000 people at the event on the last day, which is very impressive for a young event. I could have missed the cut and I still would have boasted about what a great job they did and how well they treated all the players.
PGATOUR.COM: Do you have any off-the-course memories from last year?
BRADLEY: My caddie, Noah Zelnich, and I have a tradition, kind of a superstition, that after we go out to eat at an event we always stop at a McDonald's to get a McFlurry. We went out to eat the Friday night of the tournament in Puerto Rico. While at the restaurant we ran into Brett Quigley and Charles Warren. They were looking for a ride back to resort. I told them we could take them but they had to stop at McDonald's on the way home. Brett and Charles just loved it and thought it was the funniest thing. We all had a great laugh that night.
PGATOUR.COM: You played an average of six events between 2001 and 2007. How did you stay positive through your injuries?
BRADLEY: I learned a long time ago that golf is what you do and not what I am. Dealing with all the injuries can get frustrating but at the end of the day I am very lucky to have two great kids and a beautiful wife. I tried to look at what was positive in life. It is disappointing, but I kept looking ahead. If we had a bad week, I always said, let's try to get them next week. Golf is unpredictable and some weeks you have it and some you don't. It is the nature of the beast. As you get old you realize there is more than just golf. I was lucky to have a terrific family to fall back on for support."
PGATOUR.COM: When you won the 1998 Doral-Ryder Open, did you ever think it would take 11 years to win again?
BRADLEY: In 1994, I kept my card after playing my rookie season in 1993. Then when I got to 1996 and picked up my first win it was my fourth year and it seemed like such a fantasy. When I won at Doral it was so unbelievable -- to me it was like a dream. I told my caddie after Puerto Rico last year that in the years leading up to the win that I had dreams of winning on the TOUR again. I would wake up and be angry that it was just a dream. Finally, low and behold, I was able to do it.
When I started my career on TOUR, if you told me that I would win three times on TOUR I would have said that is great. I am realistic that I will never be the best player in the world. It makes it easier knowing my place in the game. At the end of the day I am OK with it. I go out and do my best every time I play.
PGATOUR.COM: Was there a point during your recovery when you said, "Hey I can still play on the TOUR"?
BRADLEY: This is going to sound funny, but playing softball is where I realized I could still play. I was playing recreational softball and I was swinging the bat really good and I realized that I can still do this and that I didn't have to protect my back so much. After my back surgeries I was always trying to protect my back. In a roundabout way softball was a catalyst to me believing in my golf swing again.
PGATOUR.COM: What are your goals for this year and beyond?
BRADLEY: It sounds simplistic, but my goal is to do my best each day. I am not very goal oriented. As the day presents itself I make goals, but not too many long term goals. I would like to have a chance on the back nine Sunday to win a couple times this year. I would love to have that chance this year.