MORE INTERVIEWS: The Barclays interview transcripts archive
COLIN MURRAY: We'd like to welcome Keegan Bradley to the interview room here at the Barclays. Keegan, you enter the FedExCup Playoffs No.8 in the standings, fresh off a victory at the Bridgestone Invitational and a T3 at the PGA Championship. Maybe if you could start us off maybe with your thoughts on being back here at Bethpage, a place where you have some familiarity, and then we'll open it up and go to questions.
KEEGAN BRADLEY: Yeah, I feel like I'm in a great spot for the FedExCup. I came in this time of year in a good spot and just wasn't quite prepared after I won the PGA for what was coming. This is going to be a much better time for me this go� around. I love Bethpage. It's my favorite course in the world, and it feels great to be back here. A lot of really great memories of this course.
Q. You've played here many times, but what's the best memory? What could you tell us about the one greatest moment you've had here even though maybe it wasn't in a tournament or competition?
KEEGAN BRADLEY: Yeah, I remember vividly the first time I got to come play here. We used to� � it's supposed to be secret but it's not secret anymore. The superintendent Craig Currier used to allow us to come up and play on Mondays when the course was closed. We'd pull up and park at his superintendent's house, and we'd start on the third hole and play, because there was nobody out here, so we could play, us all in one group, seven, eight guys, and just having such fun little matches and basically having Bethpage Black to ourselves, which I don't know if there's anybody in the world that's ever experienced that. Normally you're out here, it's a six� hour round, it's brutal. Just great memories of the team at St.John's.
Q. Have you ever slept in the parking lot before??
KEEGAN BRADLEY: No, I never did.
Q. You keep telling that story, you keep saying it's a secret. You understand if you keep telling us it's not a secret anymore, right??
KEEGAN BRADLEY: Yeah, my coach called me one day, kind of joking but kind of not, he's like, you've got to stop talking about it or we'll never get back out there.
It's kind of a cool story because in 2009 I really wanted to make this U.S. Open. It was my first year as a pro and I bogeyed the last two holes of the second stage to miss by one, and I was devastated. So I'm so happy to be able to come back and play here and have a chance to play in front of these fans.
Q. When you guys with come out here as a team at St.John's, would you take the train? Would you all pile in a bus together? What was the arrangement?
KEEGAN BRADLEY: Most of the time we'd all just carpool together, but also Coach Darby had a van that we all piled in and we'd all pull up and jump out. We had bags everywhere. And it just was so fun. I mean, just the stereotypical hanging out with the guys and just great memories, ones that I wish I could go back and relive to be honest with you.
Q. What's this week like for you? What other events have you been to? What other courses have you been to and what do you have planned for this week other than this tournament?
KEEGAN BRADLEY: I'm trying my hardest to not overcommit myself like I did last year, but I went up to Wheatley Hills, which is just right down the street, the course that kind of took me in. I'm staying with my buddy Doc, who is the guy that basically got me out here, when I was at my lowest in terms of financial, he stepped in and helped me out.
It's just fun to come back and be an accomplished TOUR player, considering last time I was out here� � last time I played Bethpage Black was in the New York State Open. It's just fun to see how far I've come since then.
Q. I think you told me that you had gotten a hole� in� one out here. Was it one of your first hole� in� ones or your mom was here??
KEEGAN BRADLEY: My first hole� in� one was on the 12th hole on the Red. My mom was out there. It was at our St.John's tournament. And what people don't realize is how good the Red course is here. I think it's close to the Black, it just gets overshadowed a little bit.
Q. And I also know that you have now built more of a bond with Tom Brady. I know it was on Golf Channel and what have you. Have you had a chance to golf with him yet??
KEEGAN BRADLEY: I haven't had a chance to play with him, but I'm watching as much as I can. Someday we'll get out there. He doesn't play during the season, so we're kind of in a tough spot because it's my off� season, his season. But we'll get out there.
Q. Do you know what his handicap is??
KEEGAN BRADLEY: No, but I think he's pretty good from what I hear. I think he can break 80, so I'll have to give him a few shots.
Q. You mentioned Coach Darby. When you think of Coach Darby now, what's the first thing that comes to mind, and can you talk a little bit about your relationship with him and how it's evolved since you graduated St.John's??
KEEGAN BRADLEY: Coach Darby was the perfect coach for me because he kind of let me do my own thing. I think about if I had a coach that was really in my face and saying you've got to hit 3� wood here, 2� iron here, that wouldn't have worked for me. Coach really let me be myself out on the golf course and at St.John's, and that was what has gotten me to this point. He's great. He gave me four years of education at St.John's, and I'll forever be thankful for that.
Q. You're one of the best young players in the world. What's your take on Rory McIlroy, one of your peers, especially after Kiawah and what he did there??
KEEGAN BRADLEY: Yeah, Rory is a great player. I think when he's playing at his best, he's tough to beat. But it's great for me because it really pushes me to get better. I know all of us young guys want to go out there and beat him. I love playing golf. I love being in the same group with him. I love playing in contention with him. He's a good guy, too, so it makes it more fun.
Q. Last year at the Barclays it was low scoring. I think 19� under won it, but that was a different course. Based on your experience and knowledge, can we expect some low scores this week, or what kind of numbers do you think might be at the top of the board??
KEEGAN BRADLEY: It depends on how they set it up. The course is playing very difficult. The rough is up. I can't imagine this is that far off of a U.S. Open. This course is softer than an Open, but the rough is high, and I think any round you shoot under par at Bethpage Black is a great score.
Every course I play out here I think is hard. I'm amazed how low the scores are every week. But I think this is going to be single digits type under par.
Q. You're a guy that can play under pressure. What's the atmosphere like here in the Playoffs and especially on 17 when all those fans are going to be lining it??
KEEGAN BRADLEY: Yeah, I think that the fans here are the most vocal of any fans maybe other than Phoenix. It's going to be a lot of fun, a lot of St.John's guys out there, which makes it great, and I think 17, I think that whole back side on Sunday is going to be something to remember. I think there's going to be some good and some bad. But it's going to be really fun, and I would just love to be there on Sunday to experience it late.
Q. Can you talk a little bit about your mental toughness and who has nurtured that in your career??
KEEGAN BRADLEY: You know, I grew up in Vermont, Boston and played golf in Queens. I kind of have a weird chip on my shoulder a little bit, and I think I'm determined to prove everybody wrong, and that's just the way I am. I just really enjoy the coming down the stretch and trying to win a tournament, I really do. I don't have any fun when I'm not doing that. I have the most fun when I'm right there.
So I think once I get in that position, I just thrive because I love it so much, and it's almost like a drug. You need it. It's awesome.
Q. Would you take more satisfaction going head� to� head down the stretch and beating Tiger or Rory??
KEEGAN BRADLEY: You know, both would be great, but I think any time you can go head� to� head and beat Tiger would be great. I'm fine with either one. Tiger is such an iconic guy that it would be fun. But I hope to have a chance at both of them to be honest.
Q. You said after your last win, your reaction was that you loved everyone. Do you feel that way this week??
KEEGAN BRADLEY: Definitely not, no. I have a lot of "Go, Yankees" yelled at me this week. But they can have their fun this year because the Red Sox are a little bit embarrassing at the moment.
KEEGAN BRADLEY: I'm just amazed that guys can go to St.John's and be good players because we don't have any facilities, we don't get treated very well. I mean, if you're not a basketball player at St.John's they barely know you've got a team there. I'm just amazed that Coach Darby keeps getting these great players. I was looking at the leaderboard at the Met Open yesterday, which is going on, and the top 10 has got about six St.John's players in it. It's remarkable.
But I'm very proud of these guys. I want to be a part of it. I can relate to them, what they're going through. I mean, these guys could win every tournament they played in and no one would ever know. I want to be there for these guys because they're all going to turn pro. They're all good enough. And I want to make sure they feel comfortable coming to me with anything, like Phil has done for myself. It was kind of a neat day when I won at Akron and he won at the Met Amateur.
Q. With your familiarity can you talk about playing the 13th hole, the long par� 5 on the back??
KEEGAN BRADLEY: Yeah, there's a new tee there since I've been there, and that bunker on the left is new. But if you smash a drive you can get there. It's a great design because that bunker in front looks like it's greenside, but you can get it up by the green, and it's a great hole. It seems in the past U.S. Opens to have been a very pivotal hole for whatever wins the tournament.
Q. And what about 17, tactically? It's about 210 uphill. How do you play that hole?
KEEGAN BRADLEY: Yeah, 17 is a great par� 3. I think it's definitely my favorite par� 3. It could be my favorite hole in golf. I can't really explain it, it just is. I think it's a great hole. If you hit a good shot, you're got to have a good look at birdie. But it has massive bunkers and things around it, so it's a very challenging hole.
Q. What advice would you give young golfers like myself who aspire to play at your level but still want to gain a solid collegiate education??
KEEGAN BRADLEY: I would say that it's very important to balance everything as best you can. I was more interested in the golf side of things when I was in college, but I think that it's very important to your time management, especially out here. I'm trying to learn that. People seem to overwhelm themselves a little bit. I think it's very important to put time aside for your golf and for your school and make sure that stuff is taken care of because school can really wear you down, and it's important to get that stuff done so you can focus on golf.
Q. When is the last time you played here??
KEEGAN BRADLEY: Last time I played here was when I first turned pro in 2008, the New York State Open.
Q. What's your low round here??
KEEGAN BRADLEY: Someone asked me that today, and I can't quite remember, but I know that I think I shot even par one day, and I remember talking to Craig Currier that it was so difficult, and I remember talking to Craig Currier, the superintendent, at the time and he said it was almost identical to U.S. Open conditions. Sometimes at these New York Opens they have here they like to punish us and test out how tough it's going to be.
Like I said, I love the course, and any round under par is going to be good this week.
COLIN MURRAY: Keegan, thanks for your time. Best of luck.