September 06, 2014
By Mike McAllister, PGATOUR.COM
- Keegan Bradley was projected 34th in FedExCup points after the second round. (Mike Persinger/Getty Images)
CHERRY HILLS VILLAGE, Colo. – Keegan Bradley withdrew from the BMW Championship prior to Saturday's third round, citing uneasiness about a potential rules violation in the first round.
The withdrawal puts Bradley's FedExCup Playoffs status in serious jeopardy. He started the week ranked 28th in FedExCup points and now is projected to fall out of the top 30 in points that will advance to next week's TOUR Championship by Coca-Cola. The TOUR Championship field will be finalized after Sunday's final round at Cherry Hills. Bradley has qualified for the TOUR Championship in each of his first three years on TOUR.
The developments that led to Bradley's withdrawal happened on the par-4 18th hole in Thursday's first round.
After hitting his tee shot into the water hazard and taking a one-stroke penalty, Bradley's third shot from 233 yards with a 4-iron came up short of the green and embeeded in the steep grass face just above the left bunker.
Using rule 25-2, Bradley took relief for a ball embedded in its own pitch mark. Rule 25-2 states: A ball embedded in its own pitch-mark in the ground in any closely mown area through the green may be lifted, cleaned and dropped, without penalty, as near as possible to the spot where it lay but not nearer the hole. The ball when dropped must first strike a part of the course through the green. “Closely mown area” means any area of the course, including paths through the rough, cut to fairway height or less.
Bradley then chipped onto the green and two-putted for double bogey for a 1-over 71.
After his round, Bradley had a conversation with a fan, who told Bradley he had seen the ball bounce before coming to rest. Now concerned about his handling of rule 25-2, Bradley met with Slugger White, PGA TOUR Vice President of Rules and Competitions, on Friday morning. The two discussed the situation and examined the pitch mark at the 18th hole. White then absolved Bradley of any potential violation.
After shooting a second-round even-par 70 on Friday that left him at 1 over for the tournament, Bradley remained troubled that he had violated the rules and decided to withdraw.
“I just feel withdrawing is the right thing to do to protect the field in the BMW Championship and the TOUR Championship next week," Bradley said in a statement released Saturday morning. "It’s eating me alive. I didn’t call my fellow competitors for help in the first place and that bothers me. I know the official approved the drop, but I just can’t be absolutely sure it was the right spot.”
If Bradley is eliminated from the Playoffs after this week, his next event will be at the Ryder Cup later this month as a member of the U.S. team. Bradley was one of three Captain's Picks announced by Tom Watson on Tuesday.