Can local Boston fan favorite Keegan Bradley make good at 2022 US Open?

Can local Boston fan favorite Keegan Bradley make good at 2022 US Open?

At the end of a memorable third round of the 122nd US Open, Keegan Bradley marched toward the horseshoe of seats towering around the 18th green at The Country Club in Brookline, Massachusetts, where the fans rose and showered him with cheers. It’s a moment the born and bred Bay Stater will never forget.

“It was one of the most amazing moments of my entire life,” Bradley said. “I got to feel what it feels like to play in Fenway, to play in the Garden, to play in Gillette Stadium. I felt like a Boston player there.”

Bradley, 36, shot 1-under 69 to improve his 54-hole aggregate score to 2-under 208 and a share of fourth place, just two strokes behind co-leaders Will Zalatoris and Matt Fitzpatrick.

Eleven years after Bradley won his lone major title in his major debut, can he go from throwing out the first pitch at Fenway Park on Tuesday night to US Open champion? Stranger things have happened at TCC. It’s where Francis Ouimet, a 20-year-old amateur who grew up across the street from the course, won the 1913 US Open in arguably the most famous moment in championship history. Bradley didn’t grow up that close to the famed course, but the graduate of Hopkinton High School, was on site the last time a significant golf event was held at TCC, the 1999 Ryder Cup, which the US won in miraculous fashion.

“Everyone ran out on to the green, and I asked my dad if I could run out,” recalled Bradley, who watched much of it from atop his father’s shoulders. “I was a little kid. There’s a crooked tree out here (on 18). My dad said, all right, I’m going to stand right next to this crooked tree, and you go out and come right back. We didn’t have cell phones. You can still see it. It leans a little bit. That’s a fond memory too.”

Bradley, who became one of six golfers to win in his major debut at the 2011 PGA Championship, is competing in his 36th major championship. He’s only finished in the top 10 twice – none since the 2014 US Open. But here he is with a legitimate chance to write his name into Boston sports folklore.

“Out here today felt like I was in a home game, which is something that as a kid, it’s a dream,” Bradley said.

“I haven’t seen Keegan Bradley smiling this much on a golf course in a long time,” noted Paul McGinley on Golf Channel’s Live From the US Open.

Having made three bogeys in his first six holes on Saturday, Bradley turned his fortunes around with a pivotal birdie at the ninth.

“I made the putt, and they went wild. It really gave me a jolt of energy,” he said. “It put me on a path to, all right, we are no longer trying to save this round. Let’s try to get ourselves into contention here, and I did that.”

Bradley has had this major circled on his calendar for years and qualified by vaulting back inside the top 60 of the Official World Golf Ranking with his tie for second in the Wells Fargo Championship in May. He credited his two young kids for helping keep him take his mind off golf when he’s away from the course. Of son Logan, he said, “He thinks we’re on a vacation because he is — his cousins ​​and his family are here. So I go home. I’ve got to be dad, and that’s sort of, I think, what’s helped me play well this week.”

“My wife sent me this picture as I was basically walking to the tee yesterday of my son completely passed out sleeping on his bed, and I texted her back,” he recalled. “It brings me such calm to know that he has no idea what sort of stress I’m under right now.”

And then there are all the familiar faces in his gallery rooting for the local boy to make good.

“I’ve tried really hard this week to look into the crowd and see the people. Every now and then I’ll look, and I’ll see an aunt or an uncle or a friend, and it’s really, really fun,” he said. “The crowds as usual here in Boston I think are the best in the world.”

Eleven years between victories at majors would put Bradley in some rare company with the likes of Ben Crenshaw (1984 and 1995 Masters) and Tiger Woods (2008 US Open and 2019 Masters). Bradley, winner of four PGA Tour titles, hasn’t hoisted a trophy since the 2018 BMW Championship, but he knocked on the door earlier this year at the Players Championship, finishing fifth, giving him confidence that he’s still capable of winning golf’s biggest events .

“Tomorrow is going to be a tough day. I know that. It just is. It would be if I was playing in Tulsa,” he said. “Playing here, it’s going to be intense, but I’ve had this weird sense of calm over me this week.”

For Bradley, the diehard New England Patriots fan, to win a major just days after the Boston Celtics failed to win a title, well, it would be wicked awesome for him and the Massachusetts faithful.

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