Vermont’s own Keegan Bradley hangs on in his native New England to win the Travelers Championship
By Jake Fenner In Connecticut For Dailymail.Com
23:51 25 Jun 2023, updated 00:27 26 Jun 2023
- After struggling on the back nine, Bradley kept his nerve in the closing holes
- Bradley is the first New Englander to win the event since J.J. Henry in 2006
- DailyMail.com provides all the latest international sports news
Woodstock, Vermont is a quintessential New England town of about 3,000 people situated roughly halfway between the historic railway town of White River Junction and the skiing town of Killington.
Among the notable generals, journalists, and politicians hailing from the town, there is Keegan Bradley – the native New Englander who just won New England’s golf tournament.
Four years ago, he was paired in the final round with Chez Reavie at TPC River Highlands and came up four strokes short.
This year, Bradley was paired with Reavie again and despite struggling on the back-nine, he did not slip – becoming the first New Englander since J.J. Henry in 2006 to win the Travelers Championship.
Bradley entered the final day in the lead having shot a total of 189 through 54 holes – hitting 21-under and finished at 23-under, setting the tournament’s record for score to par. He also set the record for a 36 and 54 hole score in the process.
Behind him was a tie for second at 20-under between Brian Harman and Zac Blair. Patrick Cantlay, who threatened for the title, missed his par putt on the last hole to finish tied at 19-under for fourth with Scottie Scheffler. Then a three-way-tie for sixth followed at 18-under with Rory McIlroy, Denny McCarthy and Reavie.
When he approached the 18th green for the ceremony, Bradley mentioned how he grew up wanting to play in the cathedrals of New England sports – Fenway Park, TD Garden, and Gillette Stadium.
As he walked up to the cauldron of fans surrounding the final hole, Bradley said the atmosphere felt ‘pretty close’ to those places.
Bradley told DailyMail.com that he’s never been prouder to be from New England.
‘One of my favorite things about myself is where I’m from. The bond that you have with people from New England is different than anywhere in the country I’ve ever been. I’m very proud.
‘I’ve lived all over New England, Vermont, New Hampshire, Massachusetts… I’m very, very proud of where I come from. And I love every sports team in this area. So to hear the fans cheer for me like they would a sports team means a lot.’
After missing the cut at the US Open, Bradley said that he took some time off at home with his family – his wife Jillian and his two sons Logan and Cooper.
He told DailyMail.com that the time he took off was important to focus himself for this week.
‘I went home to Massachusetts and then I drove here Monday. We had a great day Monday, great day Tuesday, and great day Wednesday. And that doesn’t always necessarily mean you’re going to play well, but it seemed it seemed like I was in great shape and it really clicked in.
‘That’s the only time I’ve ever played in my career that I can think of that I did everything the best I could.’
When asked about comparing this win to his 2011 PGA Championship victory at Atlanta Athletic Club, he said, ‘winning before [having a] family and winning after… it doesn’t even compare.’
After finishing the front nine at three under, with birdies on holes three, four, and six, Bradley began River Highlands’ vaunted back nine with a par on 10 and a birdie on 11.
His tee shot on that par-3 11th hole was struck beautifully and stopped on a dime two feet from the hole.
Bradley almost repeated that on the 12th hole, where his second shot on that par-4 stopped within eight feet. He rolled an excellent putt for birdie on that hole to go 26-under.
The first blemish on his card came at the par-5 13th hole – a part of the course where the landing zone on the fairway is between a pond on the right and train tracks on the left. Bradley’s drive went right and into the water – leaving him to settle with a bogey after his par putt stopped two feet short.
On the 14th, Bradley’s second shot landed far short of the green and behind a pitch mark. He pulled his putter, but the third shot popped up like a chip and rested on the fringe. After tapping in his bogey, he sat at 24-under. His advantage over Cantlay – in the group ahead of him – was only three shots as he went into the final four holes that serve as the centerpiece of this golf course.
Up approached the 15th hole – a 274 yard par-4 into a two-tiered green that slopes toward a pond and serves as one of the biggest risk-reward holes on the course.
During the day, it proved to be tantalizing to those who drove it – but the results were not always there. Earlier in the day, Viktor Hovland proved that. He drove the green, but hit it too hard and landed on the green 65 feet from the cup before going on to three-putt.
Bradley went with the safer option – flighting his shot just off the green. Again, he pulled putter and just rolled his eagle attempt past the cup. His birdie putt also came up short and he had to tap in for par.
The par-3 16th went back over that pond with the pin tucked into the back right. Bradley missed short, avoiding the water but landing in the rough. His chip went within nine feet, he missed his par putt, and tapped in for bogey to enter the final two holes at -23.
Fortunately for Bradley, Cantlay had also messed up on this hole – dropping a shot and meaning Bradley’s bogey kept the lead at three strokes.
By the time that Bradley was teeing off on 17, Cantlay had missed a birdie putt – meaning the Vermonter would need to collapse in a dramatic way to lose the tournament.
After a strong tee shot, Bradley’s shot back over the water from 153 yards out landed dry but was 23 feet from the cup. He missed but tapped in for par, leaving him a three shot buffer going into the final hole.
But Keegan Bradley did not make it easy for himself. He mis-hit his drive far left and it came to rest under a camping chair 133 yards from the hole. Bradley’s shot rolled off the green, but left him with a chip on that he finished off to finally claim the title he had come so close to so many times before.