Bradley primed for US PGA Championship defense and Ryder Cup debut

Keegan Bradley defends the U.S. PGA Championship title he won in 2011 at Kiawah Island

Story highlights

  • Keegan Bradley tunes up for US PGA defense with win at Bridgestone Invitational
  • Bradley wins by a shot from veteran Jim Furyk after a closing round of 64
  • The 26-year-old's PGA win in 2011 was third time golfer had won on major debut
  • Bradley also targeting a spot on the United States Ryder Cup team in September

Keegan Bradley warmed up for the defense of his US PGA Championship title in perfect fashion, stealing the Bridgestone Invitational crown at the last from Jim Furyk.

Bradley has enjoyed a stellar year, culminating in his dramatic victory at Firestone Country Club on Sunday, as he shot a final round 64 to pip Furyk by one shot.

The 26-year-old became only the third player in history to win a major championship on his debut appearance 12 months ago as he beat Jason Dufner in a three-hole playoff to take the Wanamaker Trophy.

And his sparkling form has carried through 2012 as he rolled in putt after putt on the back nine in Akron, carding just 31 shots and coming up with a vital par save on the 18th that heaped the pressure on faltering Furyk.

"I didn't think for a second I was going to miss it. It was unbelievable," Bradley told the PGA Tour's official website.

"I got behind it, and I barely even had to read it. I knew the exact way it was going to break. I just needed to hit it hard enough. I knew that. And it was dead center."

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Bradley's victory at the U.S. PGA Championship saw him join Ben Curtis and Francis Ouimet as only the third player in golf to have won on their major championship debut.

    Coupled with his win at the 2011 HP Byron Nelson Championship, Bradley's efforts saw him crowned as the PGA Tour Rookie of the Year.

    But even though Bradley comes into the final major of the year with the spotlight firmly on him, he insists it will be business as usual.

    "I'm not preparing any differently," Bradley said. "The biggest key is to keep everything constant, what I've always done. I feel as though I'm doing that.

    "And about this time last year, is when I really started to get it rolling, and I went on about a six or seven month stretch of great golf. I love these golf courses at the end of the year... It's just an exciting time of the year."

    The thrilling nature of Bradley's victory at the Atlanta Athletic Club propelled him into the limelight, and he heads for Kiawah Island's Ocean Course with experience in three more majors under his belt.

    But he won't be studying videos of his triumph before he tees off on Thursday, looking to retain a trophy that bears the names of Gary Player, Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods among others.

    "I'm not able to watch the replays of the PGA," he said, "I get too nervous. Part of me is amazed that it happened.

    "I think back on it, and I think about how different my life would be if I didn't win that PGA or if I lost that playoff. It's kind of a brutal thing to think about. But life has changed a lot in terms of at golf tournaments.

    "It's not changed at all off the golf course with my buddies and my friends. I enjoy all that comes with winning major championships and tournaments, but I try to keep everything the same.

    "There are specific things that have changed dramatically, but I try to keep my life the same. I mean, I'm the same kid that grew up in Boston and Vermont that I am now."

    More majors are in Bradley's sights but once the PGA Championship is out of the way he will be hoping to focus fully on the Ryder Cup, and trying to help the United States team beat Europe.

    His victory at the Bridgestone all but secured his place as one of eight automatic slots on Captain Davis Love III's team and Bradley admits it is something he would love to be a part of.

    "I'm thinking about it," admitted Bradley. "I'm trying not to think about it. But it's definitely on my mind at all times.

    "Captain Davis Love has really reached out to me and given me some advice, and told me to take it one shot at a time and get into the process of playing each tournament and each shot.

    "You know, it's difficult, because I just missed out on the Presidents Cup last year, so I really want this pretty bad, and that can be a negative. So if I just play OK, I'm going to get into that top eight spots."