New England’s Keegan Bradley Soaking in Experience as Travelers Championship Defending Champion

CROMWELL, Conn. – Keegan Bradley has revisited the Sunday broadcast of his runaway victory at last year’s Travelers Championship a few times. And while he always fast-forwards through a chunk of the back nine (he made three bogeys in four holes), he picks it back up at the 18th green.

He watches himself sink a 2-foot par putt that secured his three-shot victory, though Bradley’s mostly just listening. As the putt drops and Bradley’s arms shoot up into the sky, CBS’ Jim Nantz exclaims, “New England’s very own takes the title at the Travelers!” That’s when Bradley gets emotional all over again.

See, the Travelers means more to Bradley than any other tournament on the PGA TOUR. He grew up in Vermont, lived in New Hampshire and Massachusetts, and still owns a home outside of Boston. The Travelers was the one event he attended as a kid. It’s where he watched David Duval play years ago, one day dreaming of being like him. And that moment last year, despite all the success Bradley had up to that point, was where it finally came full circle. He had finally won the one event he always hoped to win.

“What Jim Nantz said on the 18th hole meant so much to me and my family,” Bradley said Wednesday. “My wife made up this big picture with that quote on it, we have it in our house which is just north of Boston. And I've told this to him personally, but what he said meant so much to me. And this tournament really, it meant a lot to me before I had won.”

The victory means even more now, and Bradley has spent this week soaking in those fond memories and basking in the Boston sports glow. At Travelers Media Day, Bradley was gifted a vintage seat from Fenway Park’s section 23, which was also Bradley’s winning under-par score at the Travelers. He called it the “greatest gift I’ve ever gotten in my life.” Then the Boston-crazed fan watched the Celtics win an NBA Championship with his family, a first for his kids. On Tuesday and Wednesday, he walked TPC River Highlands and recalled all the moments that earned him a trophy. It’s already been a heck of a week, and the competition hasn’t even started.

“I have great memories of here throughout my whole entire life, so it's fun to come back as a winner of the tournament,” Bradley said. “… I'm so proud to have this be sort of my home event, because I brag all the time about how great this tournament is.”

Bradley speaks about the Travelers as if it’s one of his kids who won an award at school. He loves the clubhouse, the course, and how tournament organizers treat players’ wives, kids, and caddies. He’s ecstatic that the tournament is continuing as a Signature Event, attracting the PGA TOUR’s best players, and proud of how he’s watched it grow. Its history now includes him as one of its winners. He’d love to become a two-time winner and the first to go back-to-back at the event since Phil Mickelson in 2001 and 2002. Bradley’s game, and most notably his putter, are rounding into form at the right time, even if the results don’t quite show it.

Bradley finished T43 at the Memorial Tournament presented by Workday and T32 at the U.S. Open. But the putter, historically the most fickle component of Bradley’s game, is starting to cooperate. It’s felt good dating back to the PGA Championship, where he finished T18. He was runner-up the following week at the Charles Schwab Challenge and, despite the shaky finishes, gained strokes on the greens in his last two starts.

That has Bradley believing he could create another triumphant scene on the 18th green this week.

“Sometimes coming to a course like this that you've had some success at is just what you need to maybe hopefully contend,” he said.