By Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM
MEDINAH, Ill. -- Keegan Bradley has already won the 2011 PGA Championship and the World Golf Championships-Bridgestone Invitational earlier this year. Not bad for a 26-year-old who is just finishing up his sophomore season on the PGA TOUR.
Even so, when Bradley walked to the first tee on Tuesday to play his first Ryder Cup practice round -- a practice round, for goodness sakes -- he called it "probably the proudest moment of my entire career."
That's how much the chance to represent his country means to the New Englander, who grew up watching his aunt, World Golf Hall of Famer Pat Bradley, do the same thing at the Solheim Cup.
Bradley said he'd been dreaming of playing in the Ryder Cup since he was 5 or 6 years old. He even texted a photo of his golf bag with the red-white-and-blue to his aunt Pat on Tuesday morning.
"She just texted me 'USA all the Way,'" the nephew said. "She brings an intensity to the game, and that's what I hope she passed down to me."
Consider it done.
Bradley says it would be his dream to play with Phil Mickelson in the Foursomes and Four-ball matches. The two are frequent practice round partners at TOUR events, and Bradley, who says "I get in these games with Phil and I've got more nerves in those than I do in a tournament,” credits the veteran with toughening him up.
"I've told Davis I'm happy to partner with anybody on this team but me and Phil have a great relationship and the great part about Phil is that he's there for advice but will also listen to me and take me seriously," Bradley said. "I think that's what could make us a good partnership."
And Bradley, who says being in the team room with Mickelson and Tiger Woods and the rest of the U.S. Team is one of many "pinch-yourself moments" he's had in the last two years, just may get his wish. He practiced with Mickelson, Webb Simpson and Bubba Watson on Tuesday.
"I've always played very well after I've played in a Phil match because he gets your juices flowing, you start putting balls in the hole," Bradley said. "... Without a doubt, he's prepared me for this moment with these matches.”