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Dublin: 9°C Tuesday 20 April 2021

In The Swing: Bradley hits form at the right time

The American will be the name on the tip of everyone’s tongue ahead of his defence of the USPGA Championship.

Keegan Bradley holds up the trophy after winning the Bridgestone Invitational.
Keegan Bradley holds up the trophy after winning the Bridgestone Invitational.
Image: Tony Dejak/AP/Press Association Images

KEEGAN BRADLEY CERTAINLY chose a good time to hit form, his win at the WGC Bridgestone Invitational coming just a week before he defends his USPGA Championship at Kiawah Island.

It was a quality round of six under par that set up for him and gave him his first WGC event and just pip Jim Furyk over the closing holes.
It was an interesting event overall. Jim Furyk continued the good form he showed at the US Open earlier in the summer.

Although it has been proven not to ring true in the past, a supersticious person might think that you don’t want to win the week before a Major. What are the chances of winning two weeks in a row?

I’m don’t know if Furyk is a supersticious man, but it would be absolutely no surprise to see him content again next week. He might even go one step further and add a USPGA to his Major tally.

Having had such an indifferent season last year off the back of winning the FedEx Cup, many thought that Furyk’s best years were behind him. This year he has totally disproved that theory.

Even though he didn’t actually win the US Open or indeed the Bridgestone Invitational, the performances alone show that he still very much ‘has it’ and there won’t be one person at the USPGA who will discount Furyk’s chances.

Keegan Bradley will also be a name on the tip of everyone’s tongue. He has shown this year that his USPGA win last year was not a flash in the pan and has managed to back it up with some very good golf this year and a much improved level of consistency.

He will be licking his lips at the prospect of being able to defend a Major Championship in the form he is clearly.

He was criticised earlier in the year for some of his on-course behaviour, including spitting during his pre-shot routine, but he seems to have overcome those nervous twitches and it has coincided the a period of really good form for the American.

If Furyk was relieved of having to worry about the superstition of winning two weeks in a row, Bradley unfortunately doesn’t have that luxury.

I’m sure he won’t take it too seriously, but that won’t stop people from asking him about it and that fact that he is coming off the back off a win will certainly only put even more of a stoplight on him going into the tournament.

Defending a Major in any case always brings added pressure and an added media spotlight that isn’t always easy to deal with, particularly if you’ve never experienced it before. So if Bradley is going to successfully defend his title he certainly isn’t going to have it easy.

And that’s even before we start talking about the rest of the field that he is going to have to beat.
Rory McIlroy found some promising form during his four days at Firestone Country Club and will certainly take confidence from that going to Kiawah Island.

Graeme McDowell has contended at the last two Majors and seems to be evolving into a man who can find his best form on the big occasion. A win this week would certainly cap what has been a fine season for the Northern Irishman. His performances at Majors have deserved it.

You could also add Padraig Harrington into that category. We know Harrington thrives under pressure and when his back is against the wall.

With the Ryder Cup looming, Harrington is under pressure to make it into the team automatically, despite some fine performances at the US Masters and the US Open, and maybe the pressure of getting into that Ryder Cup team is exactly what he needs to spur him on and finally get him over the line.

Tiger Woods is obviously going to feature and while he didn’t perform at his best in the Bridgestone Invitational he managed to find a bit of form over the weekend and his eighth place finish is certainly not to be sniffed at.

The weekend is where he has struggled in the Majors this year so the fact that he made serious ground over the field on those two days at Firestone will certainly be welcome for him.

For all the players, it is the final opportunity of the year to them to add their name to the Major roster for 2012, and that in itself should be enough motivation for any man.

Add to that the spice of the Ryder Cup qualification points on offer and we should have a great entertaining mix to look forward to this weekend.

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