By Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM
NORTON, Mass. -- Keegan Bradley had actually cleaned out his locker Saturday afternoon and checked into changing his flight.
Luckily for the native New Englander, though, the cut line changed and he got to stick around for the final two rounds of the Deutsche Bank Championship. Bradley made the most of the second chance, too, when he went out and fired a third-round 63 at TPC Boston on Sunday and moved to 6 under.
Bradley got things headed in the right direction with an 8-footer for eagle at the second hole. And he rebounded from his lone bogey at the 17th hole with a gritty par at No. 18 that included a penalty stroke and a 5-footer to save a par that Bradley later said felt like a birdie or an eagle.
"My mom told me that my grandmother wanted me to shoot 63 today, so I was out there thinking I had a good chance to do that for her," Bradley said. "This is her first tournament she's ever come to, so she was on 18. So I needed to get up and down to make that putt to shoot 63.
“I'm just happy with the number that I shot today. I could have been lower, but also could be higher."
Turns out, those birdies Bradley made on his last holes on Saturday were the difference in an early exit and two more rounds at TPC Boston. He drained a 31-footer at No. 8 and made an 8-footer at the ninth to finish with a 73 that he thought wasn't going to be good enough.
"It just goes to show you that you've always got to keep grinding and finish out the race because you never know what can happen," said Bradley, who had shot 40 on his first nine holes in the second round.
The disappointment was etched on Bradley's face when he finished on Saturday. He called his instructor, Jim McLean, that night, though, and their chat paid dividends.
"I sent him a few videos of my swing because it was honestly pretty violent the first two days, the most lost I've felt on the course in a long time," Bradley said. "He just saw something in my upper body that looked a little weird. And with me, I don't need these long drawn out lessons, I just like something very small, and that's what Jim is good at."
After Bradley finished his round, McLean posted his congrats on Facebook. “Nice going today by Keegan Bradley. We had two nice talks last night. "63" today!! I think he's back on track.”
The timing issue solved, the other piece of the puzzle was the Sunday return of Bradley's caddy, Steve Hale, who everyone calls Pepsi. He had missed the first two rounds due to a family emergency but took the red-eye and arrived at the course 20 minutes before Bradley’s tee time.
"I don't know, it felt so weird out there without him," Bradley said. "It felt so bizarre, and I realized how good of a caddie Pepsi is and how much I do rely on him out there. It was a good eye opener for me in a lot of ways because when we were walking down the first hole, it just felt right, felt normal again. It didn't feel hectic, it just felt normal."
And it also felt good to play well in front of the partisan crowd.
Bradley was born in Woodstock, Vt., and is a staunch fan of all things Boston. He missed the cut at last year's Deutsche Bank Championship, though, as well as at last week's Barclays, which was contested on the Black Course at Bethpage State Park where he played frequently as a student at St. John's.
"You know, I've had such opportunities to come to New York and here and play well in front of fans, and I finally got that chance today to really shoot a good round and hear the crowd going," Bradley said. "It meant a lot to me to hear everybody do that."