Keegan Bradley couldn't have scripted it any better. Two Ryder Cup wins in his first day of competition with idol and mentor Phil Mickelson. It's the kind of storyline you dream about. He drove the ball long and true with yardages of 350+ that had the crowd shaking their heads, hit putts of enormous magnitude from 25-feet or more, and engaged the crowd all afternoon with his chest and fist bumps, as well as high fives with U.S. fans ready to explode with joy.
"When the pressure is at its highest, that's when Keegan Bradley is at his best," his partner Phil Mickelson tweeted right after their morning win.
The pair took down Sergio Garcia and Luke Donald in the early hours of Friday's alternate shot format then held on to beat Rory McElroy and Graeme McDowell in fourball play for a 2-0 start and two huge points for a US team that ended the day up 5-3.
Fred Couples got the crowd going just after 7 a.m. CST with arms raised inciting the crowd to thunderous chants of USA, USA. By the end of the day it was chants of KEEGAN BRADLEY, KEEGAN BRADLEY.
His coach Davis Love III had one word for him, "Awesome." Even ESPN announcers joined in the praise saying, "No one loves the Ryder Cup more than Keegan Bradley."
The rookie tag may be a Ryder Cup moniker but Bradley played like a seasoned veteran on this day. One hole characterized his incredible round today and it was during his second 18 holes of play. On the 412 yard, par 4 third hole, Bradley drove the greenside bucker, blasted out of the trap to within five feet and confidently made the birdie putt. WOW. It's a day Keegan Bradley will never forget!
For Bradley this night is a time to enjoy, reflect and bottle that great play and excitement for Day Two, which starts again tomorrow (Sept. 29) morning as the sun comes up. Pairings for Saturday's 36-hole format will be announced this evening.
Let the Games begin!! Pairing for opening round matchups tomorrow were announced and U.S. rookie Keegan Bradley and Phil Mickelson get the start in Match #2 vs. Europe's Sergio Garcia and Luke Donald at the 39th Ryder Cup at Medinah (IL) Country Club at 8:35 a.m. EST. The format is alternate shot to begin the morning session which also includes the following matchups:
* Jim Furyk and Brant Snedeker (US) vs.Rory McIlroy and Graeme McDowell (Europe), 8:20 a.m. EST, Match #1
* Jason Dufner and Zach Johnson (US) vs. Lee Westwood and Francesco Molinari, 8:50 a.m. EST, Match #3
* Steve Stricker and Tiger Woods (US) vs. Ian Poulter and Justin Rose (Europe), 9:05 a.m. EST, Match #4
Thursday's Opening Ceremonies highlighted the day where tradition and respect for the game of golf was the overriding theme. The European squad lauded former Ryder Cup captain Seve Ballesteros, who passed away in 2011, as this year's captain Jose' Maria Olazabal fought back tears for his good friend and mentor. U.S.captain Davis Love III, talked about this not being a battle like the senseless wars taking place across the world, but more of an athletic competition among friends.
"In today's society we need to rely on friends from all parts of the world," said Love III.
That labor of love could also be seen as Bradley and Mickelson ended their final practice round when a boy slipped through the ropes and the two pros gladly signed his flag and took a picture with the young boy. Then, as the crowd chanted U.S.A., both players signed autographs as a huge throng gathered behind the 18th green. Sergio Garcia of Europe did the same as he walked down the 18th fareway and was greated by another young admirer - put his arm around him and signed his cap.
Justin Timberlake, U.S. Ryder Cup Ambassador, and former American Idol vocalist Jordan Sparks added star power to the afternoon which concluded on a high note with both team's national anthems.
Day Two from The Ryder Cup - September 26
The 26 year old U.S. rookie strolled out for Day Two of his Ryder Cup experience, golf's premier event against Europe, with his Red (pants), White (cap) and Blue (shirt) tucked neatly into his slacks. Keegan Bradley, St. John's University alum, is awed by the magnitude of this global event but doesn't look out of place nor is he intimidated. A few butterflies maybe, but up for the challenge nonetheless.
He was asked in his first Ryder Cup media session about being on a big stage and having to make a winning putt or shot to win the Ryder Cup for the U.S. "If it does come down to me I'd love it," Bradley said without flinching. "I can't speak from experience because I've never played a Ryder Cup, and it took me by surprise a little bit at how intense and into it every player is, so if I have to win my match on the final day I'd relish the challenge."
Paired on Wednesday with Phil Mickelson, Zach Johnson and Jason Duffner, the foursome worked on different format elements during their practice round to prepare for the weekend competition (Sept. 28-30) ahead. A crowd of more than 25,000 flocked to Medinah (IL) Country Club just outside of Chicago to take in the festivities today, as players continued to engage the fans, sign autographs and soak up the atmosphere. A gala Ryder Cup dinner with performances by Justin Timberlake and the group Chicago headline Wednesday night's activities.
Thursday it's all business with the announcement of team pairings and strategies put in place for the U.S. to try to wrestle the Cup away from the defending champion European squad and Bradley knows he can lean on the veterans of this U.S. team for support.
"It's comforting as a rookie to know I can go talk to a Jim Furyk, Phil or Tiger (Woods) or any of these guys and they are there for you and want to help," added Bradley during the media session.
Next up is the last practice round tomorrow and the formal Opening Ceremonies from 5-6 p.m. EST, complete with sport coats, shirts and ties before an outdoor (weather permitting) crowd on the 10th hole of Course #1 at Medinah.
The Ryder Cup follows three different formats of play over the weekend of the competition. The first is the foursomes match play, followed by fourball and then individual singles matches.
The foursomes match play consist of four seperate matches, each featuring a pair of players from both the American and European squad. Each pair alternates shots on the same ball, and the pair with the lowest score on a hole wins that hole. The pair that wins the most holes earns a point for their team. If the match is tied after 18, each team receives 1/2 of a point.
Since only eight of the 12 players get to play in the foursomes match play, that means a few of golf's best have to sit on the sidelines. Most experts believe that because of his long driving ability and clutch putting that St. John's alumnus Keegan Bradley is ideal for this format. Four foursome matches occur on Friday with four more on Saturday.
Also occurring on both Friday and Saturday the fourball matches. The pairings are similar with two Americans and two Europeans in each foursome. However, in this format, all four players play their own ball. The lowest score on a hole wins the hole for that team. Four ball is also played on both Friday and Saturday with both teams using eight players.
The final format is head-to-head singles match play, where all 12 players from each team play against one member from the other team in classic match play. In all cases, if the two teams are tied at the end of 18 holes, each team is awarded 1/2 of a point instead of the full point.
Experts are saying that because of his shot-making ability and his penchant for coming up big in the biggest moments, Bradley could be one of the top point-scorers for the U.S. team this weekend.
Live updates from the STJ team at the course: STJ alum Keegan Bradley played his second practice round with Phil Mickelson at the 39th Ryder Cup today, both decked out in red (pants), white (caps) and blue (shirts) before a crowd of more than 25,000 at Medinah (IL) Country Club just outside of Chicago. On advice from U.S. team veterans Bradley said, "It's comforting as a rookie to know that I can go talk to Jim (Furyk), Phil or Tiger (Woods), or any of these guys and they are there for you and want to help". Tonight's highlights include a gala Ryder Cup dinner and performances by the group Chicago and Justin Timberlake. On Thursday, the Opening Ceremonies will reveal pairings by both U.S. and European squads for the Ryder Cup competition to begin Friday, September 28th through Sunday, September 30th.
With the Tour Championship over, all eyes in the golf world are on the Ryder Cup. One of the biggest story lines in this year's Ryder Cup is how America's group of four Cup first-timers will fare, including St. John's alumnus Keegan Bradley.
Some say that they'll do just fine considering that to get to this point, they've all won on the biggest stages. Bradley is no exception to this rule as the 2011 PGA Champion and a three-time winner on the PGA Tour. He even admitted this week that he has been focusing on this week for a while now, even throughout the FedExCup playoffs.
Others are saying that the Ryder Cup rookies not having played on this stage could be either a good or a bad thing, depending on their mindset heading into the tournament. One thing is for certain though, and that's that Bradley will have possibly his biggest on-tour mentor by his side during the event, as U.S. team captain Davis Love II announced that he would be partnering Keegan with Phil Mickelson.
Remember the last time those two were paired together at a big event?
Today was a big day for the 2012 U.S. Ryder Cup team as
captain Davis Love III made his four picks to round out the 12-man squad. Of
course, St. John's alumnus Keegan
Bradley wasn't sweating on Tuesday as he was one of eight players to
automatically qualify after this year's PGA Championship. Bradley - who finished
fourth in the final point standings - solidified his spot with his win at the
WGC-Bridgestone Invitational and followed that up with a third-place finish in
his title defense at the PGA Championship.
The Ryder Cup nod was a big moment for Bradley, who narrowly
missed out on the 2011 President's Cup team, with team captain Fred Couples
saying that Bradley was the next guy on the list after 2011 FedExCup Champion
Bill Haas and Tiger Woods.
The current team, who regularly receives encouragement and
advice from the PGA Tour superstar might look to Bradley for a little advice on
its opening tournament. The Johnnies will start the fall 2012 campaign with a
trip to the Ocean Course at Kiawah, which hosted the 2012 PGA Championship and
has been billed as the toughest course in America.
A few of the current members of the team will be checking in
with RedStormSports.com as we get closer to kicking off the 2012 fall slate, so
stay tuned to the Eye of the Storm Blog for all of the latest news on the Red
Storm and on Keegan Bradley as he finishes up the FedExCup playoffs (he's
currently 12th) and gets set for the Ryder Cup.
Over the past two weeks, NBC 4's Bruce Beck has encountered and written about various athletes at the 2012 London Olympics, but none seemed to have had the great effect on Beck that St. John's Olympic trio of Phobay Kutu-Akoi, Dagmara Wozniak and Daryl Homer did. Beck, a St. John's university alumnus himself, wrote a letter to St. John's school president Rev. Donald J. Harrington discussing the impact that St. John's athletes had on him during his time in London, and how much Red Storm pride he felt in knowing what kind of student-athletes Father Harrington and his University were producing.