Another Bradley hoping to make his mark in the game

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Keegan Bradley, whose Aunt is Hall-of-Famer Pat Bradley, shota 69 Friday to move into contention.
February 11, 2011
Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM Chief of Correspondents

PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. -- Keegan Bradley was born in 1986, the same year his father's sister Pat won three of the LPGA Tour's four majors.

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"So my whole life I always remember Pat as a star and great player," Keegan said. "She's always helped me through my career. ... She's always there for me. She knows exactly what I'm going through out there."

And Pat Bradley -- as in, the World Golf Hall of Famer -- flew in from her home on Cape Cod and was in her nephew's gallery on Friday as he fired a 69 at Spyglass Hill. The round moved him into sole possession of third place at the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am, just five strokes off the pace at 8 under with two rounds remaining.

"I am so excited for my nephew," Pat said by telephone after the round. "I am so proud of him. He has played terrifically the last few days. We're just going to say a prayer that it continues."

Keegan, who finished 14th on the Nationwide Tour money list last year to earn his card, is playing in just his fourth PGA TOUR event. He's cashed checks in the first three with a tie for seventh at the Bob Hope Classic his best finish -- not a bad start for his rookie campaign.

"He's been preparing for this moment since he's a little boy," Pat said. "I think through my career and my success, I hope I've helped to enhance Keegan's desire to be inside the ropes instead of outside the ropes. But it was always one thing and one thing only -- and that was to be a PGA TOUR pro. "

Pat said she hasn't been nervous watching her nephew play the first two rounds because she knows how diligently he has prepared. This was her first time in his gallery on TOUR. Her brother Tom, Keegan's uncle, who lives in Danville, Calif., also drove over to watch for the week.

"He looked so good out there," Pat said. "He's taking it all in stride. He's just so calm and comfortable. He's just a joy to watch. I think when people watched me they were biting their nails. He is so prepared that I don't worry about him once he leaves that first tee. He's a grinder, and he'll do everything possible do to get the most out of the hole.

"I just told him well played, Keegs. Keep trusting what you're doing, and you're off and running."

Keegan, who played golf at St. John's -- and didn't resist a chance to call attention to Thursday's 18-point victory over UConn when he made his first-ever trip to the media center -- said he sees a lot of similarities between his game and that of his aunt.

"I look up to her in a lot of different ways, and one of the ways try emulate her is her toughness and her work ethic," Keegan said.

Pat is impressed by the way her nephew grinds. Take Friday, for example. He started on the back nine at Spyglass Hill, which is considered the most difficult of the three courses in the rotation for the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am. He birdied the 11th and 12th but quickly gave those shots back with bogeys in two of his next three holes.

"I kind of went through a stage where I wasn't hitting very good shots," Keegan admitted. "Things were not good."

Plenty of rookies would have gotten down on themselves at that point. But Keegan made the turn and reeled off birdies on three of his next four holes, including the par-5 first where his drive strayed through the trees and back into the fairway.

"I just really settled in," Keegan said. "I shot 33 on the back, and I had a good look for birdie on my last hole that I didn't make. But I really played solid from there on in. No trouble."

His aunt, who won six majors and a total of 31 LPGA titles, was impressed by his performance.

"He works hard from the tee to the green," Pat said. "He doesn't take anything for granted. He'll grind out whatever he can on a hole, and he stays in the moment. I tried to stay in the moment, too. I didn't want to get too ahead of myself, and Keegs is doing that, too. I think that is very, very good."

Interestingly, Keegan is partnered this week with Heidi Ueberroth, who is president of NBA International. He's a big Boston Celtics fan so there was plenty of chatter in the group. Also in his foursome the first three days are fellow New Englander Billy Andrade and soccer star Brandi Chastain.

Keegan's best finish on the Nationwide Tour last year came when he finished second at the Ford Wayne Gretzky Classic presented by Samsung, which features a similar celebrity format. Then there's that top-10 at the Bob Hope Classic last month.

"There's something about these pro-ams," Keegan said with a smile. "Maybe it's a different mindset."

Truth be told, though, it's not just pro-ams. The big-hitting Bradley apppears to have already found his niche on the PGA TOUR. He says he already feels more comfortable than he did in his first three starts on the Nationwide Tour last year.

"I don't know why," Keegan said. "But I feel like I belong out here. It's fun to look around and see the boys I've been watching on TV forever. It's fun to play in front of galleries. It's fun to play for the big purses. It's just a dream come true. I've been training to do this my whole life."

And when Keegan wins his first TOUR event? Will someone be ringing a bell back home on Cape Cod like Pat's mother, and Keegan's grandmother, used to do to celebrate all her victories?

"We're going to have to go down to the Hall of Fame and dust it off," Pat said. Sooner, rather than later, she hopes.