Tour Report: Short game work sparks Bradley

By: samjack


Keegan Bradley meets with the media and talks about the advantages of playing his second season on the PGA TOUR.
AVONDALE, La. ó When you win twice as a rookie, including a major championship, a player could understandably get complacent. Not Keegan Bradley, though.
The reigning PGA champion, who will defend his first title next month at the HP Byron Nelson Championship, sat down with his instructor Jim McLean after that PGA TOUR Rookie of the Year campaign was done. The two took a look at his statistics and discovered Bradleyís short game could use some improvement, particularly in terms of chipping and his bunker play.
So with that area of emphasis during the offseason, Bradley went to work and the results have been striking. He ranks ninth in sand saves right now after finishing 168th in that category a year ago. Heís gone from 147th in approaches from 50-125 yards to 113th, as well.
Combine those stats with a man who ranks 14th in driving distance, 12th in total driving, 23rd in greens in regulation and fifth in birdies and youíve got a formidable player. Bradley, who holds down first in the TOURís All-Around category and seventh in scoring, has not missed a cut in 10 events ó nor has he finished lower than a tie for 27th at the Masters.
"We focused on that in the off-season and I turned those two areas into one of my strengths which is the reason why I think Iíve been contending Ö almost every week," said Bradley, who nearly picked up the third win of his career at the Northern Trust Open earlier this year before losing to Bill Haas in a playoff.
The New Englander said that knowing the courses and cities that host the PGA TOUR each week has also been a factor. Heís not afraid to skip a tournament now to make sure heís well-rested, either. Plus, his mental guru, Bob Rotella has helped him learn to relax on the course.
"I think, a lot of rookies, lot of guys first come out, they try to force playing well than to just relax and let it happen and thatís been kind of our goal, me and Rotella to do that more than go out there and try to press it," said Bradley, who tied for 26th a year ago in his debut at TPC Louisiana.
"It hasnít been great," Toms acknowledged when asked about the state of his game. "Ö Thereís no reason why. Iím not really struggling with my golf swing or putting or anything in particular. So, I need that one, you know, good round and good tournament to get a little bit of confidence moving forward." And as Toms found out, all it takes is one good tournament. After losing that playoff to Choi last year at THE PLAYERS ó which he thought "was my tournament to win until the very end," Toms said ó he won at Colonial in his next start.

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