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Plenty of players struggled with both the windy, cool conditions and the difficulty of the course at The Country Club over the first three rounds of the US Open, but one player who has been consistent throughout is Keegan Bradley.
On Saturday, his one under round of 69 left him just two shots off the lead going into the final round. Making his performance all the more special is that Bradley is from the Vermont town of Woodstock, just a couple of hours north-west of the Brookline course – something not lost on the crowd, who gave the 36-year-old a huge reception as he walked down the 18th.
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It was moment that Bradley says was unforgettable. Speaking after his round on Saturday, he said: “It was one of the most amazing moments of my entire life. 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. That was a moment I'll never forget the rest of my life, and I appreciate the fans giving me that, and I hope to have them cheer again tomorrow.
“As a kid, I dream of playing in front of Boston fans and being a Patriot or being in the Garden. Most of the time I'm playing across the world or the country, and I'm by myself, and every now and then I'm in Hartford and I get to feel that, or in a Ryder Cup. Out here today felt like I was in a home game, which is something that as a kid, it's a dream.”
Bradley is looking for his second Major victory following his 2011 PGA Championship win, and he says the backing he is receiving this week is playing an important role in keeping that dream on track. He said: “I made this putt on 9 today, and the crowd really went - I walked up to the green, and the crowd really went crazy for me, and then I made the putt, and they went wild. It really gave me a jolt of energy. It put me on a path to, all right, we no longer are trying to save this round. Let's try to get ourselves into contention here, and I did that.”
While Bradley is firmly in the mix going into the final round, he’s well aware that he’ll need to perform at least as well as he has so far. He said: “Tomorrow is going to be a tough day. I know that. It just is. It would be if I was playing in Tulsa. But playing here, it's going to be intense, but I've had this weird sense of calm over me this week. I'm playing really well, and I really feel comfortable on this course.”
Before turning his thoughts to the task at hand, though, Bradley found time to dwell on that special reception once more. He said: “That walk up 18 was the best I've ever felt at a tournament. That was really cool. It's got a British Open feel, that 18th. It really does. They've done an incredible job. It was nice that I hit a good shot in there, so I could kind of walk up, and I told myself, let's try to enjoy this walk up 18 today because it's been a hard-fought day. Let's take this in, and I didn't know they were going to do that, and it just made it that much better.”
Mike has 25 years of experience in journalism, including writing on sports such as golf, football and cricket. Now a freelance writer for Golf Monthly, he is dedicated to covering the sport’s most newsworthy stories. Originally from East Yorkshire, Mike now resides in Canada, where the nearest course is less than a mile from his home. It’s there where he remains confident that, one of these days, he’ll play the 17th without finding the water. Kevin Cook’s acclaimed 2007 biography, Tommy’s Honour, about golf’s founding father and son, remains one of his all-time favourite sports books.
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