St. John's graduate Keegan Bradley is well within striking distance going into the weekend at Kiawah Island.
"By far the toughest golf course in those conditions I have ever played! Back at it in 14 hours. Oh joy!"
That was a tweet sent out last night by 2011 PGA runner-up Jason Dufner. The man who beat him in last year's final major, Keegan Bradley, would most likely agree with Dufner's sentiments about the beautiful, yet incredibly difficult Ocean Course at Kiawah Island. In fact, we can guarantee that he would.
Bradley, who graduated from St. John's in 2008, is looking to defend his title this week in South Carolina. In his first ever major appearance a year ago, he pulled off one of the most dramatic comebacks in golf history overcoming a five-stroke deficit with three holes left to win the coveted Wanamaker Trophy at the Atlanta Athletic Club.
We chronicled Bradley's background and his chances of winning his second PGA earlier this week, and his first two rounds at Kiawah have mostly lived up to the expectations. Despite back nine struggles on Friday on a course that left the entire field scratching their heads, Bradley is in contention heading into the weekend.
More, below the fold.
It was blustery. It was hot. It was downright uncomfortable.
The second round at Kiawah Island on Friday was about as tough as golf is going to get. Just twelve players in the entire field posted a lower score in the second round than they did in the first. There were more scores in the 90s (2) than there were in the 60s (1).
Bradley continued the positive momentum he gained winning last week's Bridgestone Invitational on Thursday when he shot a 4-under 68 playing alongside 14-time major winner Tiger Woods and 2010 PGA champion Martin Kaymer.
But it was different on Friday, as it was with almost everyone else trying to conquer the Ocean Course. After Bradley made his turn onto the back nine, he bogied four consecutive holes - the same four holes he played at even par on Thursday. He finished the day shooting a 5-over 77, which actually bettered the field's average of just over 78.
Even though the conditions weren't favorable, it was Bradley's swing mechanics that were off during that difficult stretch. On one of his tee shots, using a driver, he double-crossed his swing and the ball missed the fairway to the left by at least thirty yards. In baseball terms, that is the equivalent of a right-handed batter pulling one foul after trying to hit it up the middle.
Even so, Bradley is just five strokes back of co-leaders Woods, Carl Pettersson, and Vijay Singh. The way this course could play, no lead is safe and no deficit is insurmountable. The man who lifts the trophy on Sunday evening will have passed a test no one like you or I could even comprehend.
If you're interested in watching Bradley on Saturday in the PGA Championship's third round, tune into TNT at 11am and CBS at 2pm. He is teeing off at 1pm, playing with Fredrik Jacobson of Sweden.