For Bradleys, it runs in the family

Keegan’s victory really hit home

By Michael Whitmer
Globe Staff / August 15, 2011

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JOHNS CREEK, Ga. - With his son in position to win the event that his organization runs, PGA of America club professional Mark Bradley considered taking an early-morning flight from Jackson Hole, Wyo., to Atlanta, knowing that history - family and golf - might be made.

Duty called, though. There was a member event at the Jackson Hole Golf & Tennis Club yesterday, so he felt obligated to work on a busy day. Well, sort of work.

“Keegan had just birdied the first hole when I was sending the groups out, so I announced that and everybody cheered,’’ Mark Bradley said by telephone last night, after his son captured the 93d PGA Championship in a playoff over Jason Dufner, winning in his major debut. “I told them I probably wasn’t going to be there when they got back in, because I was going home to watch.’’

What Mark Bradley - who worked at courses in Vermont and Massachusetts before moving to Wyoming - saw yesterday is what has been common knowledge in a very successful golfing family. The kid can play. They’ve known it for years. Now everybody else does.

“Am I happy? Yes. Am I surprised? No,’’ said Kaye Bradley, Keegan’s mom, who lives in Newburyport but came down for the tournament. “It’s a little surreal. My nerves have gotten much better over the years, but they did set in a little bit this afternoon. Wow.’’

Kaye Bradley, her daughter, Madison, and 10-month-old grandson, Aiden, stayed with Keegan at a rented house all week. From family dinners to sitcom reruns, they tried to make things as normal as possible for the player who was attempting to do something that’s been done only twice since 1913.

Winning majors runs in the family. Bradley, born the same year (1986) that his aunt, Hall of Famer Pat Bradley, won three majors, now has two wins and more than $3.4 million in his rookie season on the PGA Tour, including a major. Pat, watching yesterday from Cape Cod, saw something that looked familiar.

“He showed me that Bradley toughness,’’ Pat said, referring to Keegan fighting off a triple bogey on the 15th hole to play the last six holes - three in regulation, and three in the playoff - in 3 under par, wiping out a late five-shot deficit. “I made my history in the game, and now it’s time for Keegan to make his history. He’s off to a wonderful start, and deserves his own place in history.’’

Miles away, Mark Bradley sensed how special the day in sultry Georgia had been. In attendance for Keegan’s PGA Tour debut back in January in Hawaii, he’ll make the trip back to the Northeast for the Deutsche Bank Championship at TPC Boston in a few weeks. They’ll throw quite a party.

“I always thought he’d accomplish great things in golf, but not this quickly,’’ Mark Bradley said. “He’s just a really good player. Makes me proud.’’

Michael Whitmer can be reached at