January 6 2012
By Mike McAllister, PGATOUR.COM
KAPALUA, Hawaii -- He has his wife and kids with him. They've eaten at the Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. restaurant in neary Lahaina for four straight nights. He's been deep-sea fishing with his 9-year-old son (alas, they got shut out).
It's been a good week already for Michael Bradley ... and it got even better on Friday.
The 45-year-old Bradley, playing with Bryce Molder in the first group of the season, produced a bogey-free 5-under 68 and was the clubhouse leader when he finished his round.
Not a bad way to start the year.
"I drove it decent, hit some good iron shots, made some putts," Bradley said. "I didn't do anything stupid."
And that may be the most important thing, considering Bradley felt a little rusty coming into this week. He also admitted to being a little nervous going off first; two years ago at this event, he was also in the first twosome of the first round of the year, paired that time with Martin Laird.
But staying out of trouble and making a couple of extra-long putts made it a comfortable day, despite the windy conditions. Oh, and he also knocked a 408-yard drive at the seventh hole, the longest drive of his PGA TOUR career.
Having qualified for this event by winning in Puerto Rico last year, Bradley would get a return ticket next year if he can seal the deal on Monday. Not that he's looking that far ahead.
"Yes, it was a nice way to start," he said. "But it's too early to start thinking about winning. If I'm still around the lead when I step onto the 10th tee on Monday, then maybe then ..."
Well, maybe by then he'd already have made three more visits to Bubba Gump's.