Norton, Mass. — Last year, there were the distractions that came with playing a home game after winning the first major championship he ever started — dealing with hordes of family and friends, throwing the first pitch at Fenway Park, and tossing the coin to start a Patriots pre-season game.
All the extracurricular activities took their toll on Keegan Bradley, who missed the cut at the 2011 Deutsche Bank Championship. This time around, the three-time PGA Tour winner could not blame anything other than a peculiarly bad round on Friday for finding himself once again having to battle back just to make it to the weekend at TPC Boston.
For sure, the 26-year-old with Vermont roots and a Massachusetts high school diploma looked weary Friday evening after fighting his game all day and proclaimed himself happy to have escaped with a 71. Indeed, the New England native conceded things could have been a whole lot worse in a round when he could provide little to rev up the home crowd.
“Horrible. That was pretty bad. Can’t remember feeling that lost on a golf course in a long time,” Bradley said after playing a game that went sideways from the beginning, when he bogeyed the first three holes. An eagle-two on the par-4 fourth provided some respite, but he bogeyed two of the next three, including a three-putt on the seventh.
Bradley bounced back with a three-hole stretch of consecutive birdies starting on No. 8, and added another on the 12th. But the only positive Bradley could take from a day when 21-year-old tour rookie Seung-Yul Noh fired a near-course-record 62 (one shy of Vijay Singh’s and Mike Weir’s 61) and Tiger Woods put on a display worthy of the Tiger of old (64, which included a streak of six straight birdies) was that things were not as bad as they could have been.
“I was able to battle back,” he said about putting his six bogeys behind him and adding four birdies to an otherwise uneven-looking scorecard. “It could have been 80, so in a weird way I’m happy shooting even-par. I got another chance to come out early tomorrow and shoot a good one.”
Bradley will have to do just if he hopes to be around for the weekend and not miss his second straight cut in as many weeks. While he said he would go to the range “and try to figure it out,” the 2011 Rookie of the Year could not explain exactly what went wrong on Friday — other than “a little bit of everything” that included missed fairways and iffy putting.
“Just as soon as I teed off, something just didn’t feel right,” he said. “I did a good job of keeping it together when it could have been disastrous, so an even-par round, considering all that nonsense, is pretty good.”
Boston Bruins forward Shawn Thornton, by the way, was inside the ropes with Bradley and his playing partners, Matt Kuchar and Hunter Mahan. Thornton provided Bradley fans with instant updates via his live tweeting on behalf of @PGATOUR. Among Thornton’s Twitter blasts:
“Played with Keegan once before. Remember thinking next day: I’ve never met someone that’s naturally THAT good at something.”
“There are a ton of @NHLBruins fans out here. I’m getting “Go B’s” every 10 seconds!”
“Incredible birdie by Keegan. Pushed his tee shot right and had a blind second over a hill. I easily could have made 9 from there.”
Bradley will head into Saturday in a tie for bazillion-way tie for 56th. He’ll tee off at 8:28 a.m. from the 10th tee.