Winning in front of your home crowd, dissing your NFL division rival, and drinking Sam Adams beer- it doesn’t get much more New England than that.
Playing at TPC River Highlands as a professional was at the forefront of New England native Keegan Bradley’s mind when he first earned his Tour card; winning it was the dream come realized Sunday as he hoisted up his trophy in front of the adoring and enthusiastic hometown fans.
“I’ve wanted to win this tournament forever,” Keegan Bradley said after his third round, where he finished his 18 holes leading at -21 heading into Sunday.
Bradley did just that, finishing at -23. This despite a shaky back nine where he briefly opened the door to Patrick Cantlay. Keegan Bradley won at his childhood favorite course by a three-stroke margin over both Zac Blair and Brian Harman who finished T2.
"“[This] was the first PGA TOUR event I’ve ever been to back when I was a kid. I drove from Vermont and drove here to come here and watch David Duval play. It’s an event my first handful of years on TOUR I really struggled at, because the pressure of wanting to play well for wow family and the local community was too much. I had to learn how to do it. Other than the majors and those type of tournaments, this was always the top of my list. What a special thing to be the winner of this tournament.”"
As good New England sports fans do, the crowd chanted and cheered for the Vermont native throughout the weekend; lifting his name above the stars he played alongside. The Travelers Championship is the only New England stop on the PGA Tour, and fans made sure to deliver Bradley the crowd experience a hometown hero deserves.
When asked how it felt to be given that kind of crowd experience, Bradley expressed his gratitude to his beloved fans.
"“I can’t even describe what that felt like. I dreamt my whole life of playing in Fenway Park, Gillette Stadium, and it feel pretty close to what that would feel like. You know, I had a bunch of people say they’ve never heard the 18th hole sound like that. It was just so fun to have a three-shot lead where I could enjoy it and mess up a little bit and still win. I could let my guard down a little bit. You know, I’ve never been able to do that in my six wins. I’m so thankful for the fans. I’m so honored to be their winner.”"
The 37-year-old also boasted about some of the love he had received post-win from some pretty recognizable names.
"“Michael Jordan texted me, and that means a lot to me. He’s obviously my hero but one my good friends… Aaron Rodgers. That meant a lot, even though he plays for the Jets now.”"
Achieving your childhood dream and getting praised by your bestie Michael Jordan after, NBD.
After Keegan Bradley re-affirmed his New England Patriots loyalty, his celebrations kicked off with nothing other than a Sam Adams beer. Drank out of the trophy, of course.
The six-time PGA Tour winner cracked a cold one walking off the course, confirming with staff members he could take the trophy home for the night. The trophy was needed for celebratory glassware before engraving could happen.
Ahh. The taste of victory and a New England lager.