PGA champions Bradley, Dufner close friends, rivals, pranksters both on and off the course
August 06, 2014
By Brian Wacker, PGATOUR.COM
- Keegan Bradley and Jason Dufner have become friends both on and off the course. (Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)
LOUISVILLE, Ky. -- Last March Jason Dufner tweeted a picture of a Lego figure with a flat-bill cap asking if this was the look Keegan Bradley was going for.
Bradley’s response included an old photo of Dufner sporting frosted blonde tips, spiked hair and hoop earrings.
The Twitter battle between the two PGA champions was on, and it raged for a couple of days until Bradley couldn’t take it anymore and bowed out, which is usually the case.
“I needle him a lot more than he needles me,” admits Dufner. “I try to drive him to the brink, to the edge of the cliff.”
And then push him off, like the time he put a rock in Bradley’s bag when the two were paired together in a round at Sherwood Country Club (click here for video).
Or when Bradley had a chance to win a tournament, hit a bad shot on the 71st hole and lost.
“The first thing he says to me when he sees me is ‘Great shot on 17,’” Bradley said. “I can’t say what my reply was.”
Ever since the 2011 PGA Championship at Atlanta Athletic Club, where Bradley beat Dufner in a playoff after Dufner blew a five-stroke lead with three holes to play, the two have been inextricably linked.
Though they don’t live near one another -- Dufner’s home is in Auburn, Alabama and Bradley’s in Jupiter, Florida -- the bromance has blossomed over the last three years.
On the course, they’ve been paired together 15 times during that period. Off it, they share the same instructor, Chuck Cook, and have enjoyed a handful of casual rounds and dinners together.
“It’s a good relationship,” Dufner says. “You’re not going to get along with everybody out here. If you could find a couple of true friends it’s a nice thing.”
MORE ON THE DUF
FUNNY PHOTOS: When all others are stressed out when the heat is on, The Duf stands calm, cool and collected. Check it out
DINNER MENU: What did The Duf serve at the Champion's Dinner? Butt-Rubbed Filet Mignon
DRESSING THE DUF: Q&A with a Perry Ellis representative. Style Insider
DUF VIDEO: Path to victory | Hawaii tour | "How Duf Does It"
And with that friendship, neither misses an opportunity to fire a shot at the other because, as Bradley puts it, that’s what friends do.
“He’s very, very superstitious,” Dufner chuckles when asked about why Bradley won’t touch the Claret Jug unless he wins it.
Then he offered this about Bradley’s odd, start-stop-start, side stare move before he hits a shot: “His routine has become historic and well known out here,” Dufner cackles.
Bradley, meanwhile, doesn’t hesitate to heap praise on Dufner’s game. As one of the game’s best ball-strikers, it’s well-deserved, too. Naturally, though, it comes with a caveat.
“Everything he does is good,” Bradley said. “I watch everything he does … until he gets on the green, then I’m done. I look away when he’s got the putter in his hands.”
Dufner, it should be noted, ranks 178th on TOUR in strokes gained-putting this season.
Nonetheless, both have managed to feed off one another despite being fierce competitors often vying for the same titles.
Dufner and Bradley’s unique pre-shot routines
Last year, Dufner finally joined Bradley as a major champion. Trailing leader Jim Furyk by one going into the final round at Oak Hill, Dufner birdied the eighth hole to take the lead and never looked back. He went on to win the PGA Championship by two strokes.
Bradley, meanwhile, had long been finished and was on his way to the airport as Dufner was marching toward victory. When he heard that Dufner was in the lead, Bradley turned the car around, blew a red light and made it back to Oak Hill in time to congratulate Dufner behind the 18th green as he finished.
It was a touching moment, or something like that.
“I think he felt bad for me,” Dufner jokes. “He was giving me sympathy. He felt like he owed me something.”
With the victory, Dufner felt like he owed others something, too.
It’s one of the reasons he spends so much time around the Auburn football team, giving pep talks to the team and sharing what he has learned.
“Coaches want kids to be around guys who are successful,” Dufner said. “Fifteen years ago I was in their shoes.
“(Winning the PGA) created a self -awareness about the reach it gives you; a platform, a voice, whether it’s a charity or helping out Auburn. Athletic directors tend to listen to you a little more.”
Dufner and Bradley do their share of listening to one another, too.
“We challenge each other a lot,” said Dufner, who didn’t miss one more opportunity to needle Bradley.
“I feel like he has learned a lot from me,” he continued. “I’m still trying to figure out what I’ve learned from him.”