Cotton Ranch pro wins PGA Assistants’ sectional tourney
By that time, golfers will be trading in their sunscreen for ski wax.
But Bradley has some big plans on the calendar for that week. He earned himself a trip to the PGA Golf Complex in Port St. Lucie, Fla., by winning the Colorado Section of the Taylor Made National Assistants Championship last week.
Bradley fired a 67-68, finishing 9-under at the Pelican Lakes Golf Club in Windsor. That forced a sudden-death playoff with Jason Brandt, which Bradley won with a 20-foot putt for birdie.
“It was almost more of a relief. Honestly, I didn’t know what to do with myself. “Wow, I just won this darn thing,'” Bradley said. “I went to Denver and one of my best friends from grade school and high school was having his 30th birthday party that night. It actually worked out perfectly. It was a very happy birthday for everyone.”
Bradley, who is working on clearing level 2 in PGA Apprentice School, played in college for four years while attending Fort Lewis. He competed in this same tournament last year, finishing seventh.
Ironically, Bradley shot in the mid-80s in his practice round, but had no such problems come tournament time.
“I’ve played a lot of tournament golf. I’ve been playing tournament golf since I was a little kid,” Bradley said. “So it wasn’t a huge surprise for me to turn it around. I’m a much better tournament player than I am a fooling-around, having-fun player.”
Bradley’s gameplan was to take advantage of Pelican Bay’s par-5’s. That strategy worked to perfection during the first day of the tourney. He was 4-under on them as part of that opening 67.
After going out with three pars, Bradley’s tee shot on No. 4 found the drink and resulted in an eventual double. But Bradley proceeded to eagle the par-5 fifth and he was back in business.
“I just kind of took it in stride. “Hey, now you’re back to even,'” Bradley said. “It’s like you start all over. I really tried not to press. That was probably the best thing. I think my head was the best aspect of my game. I never thought too far ahead.”
Birdies at seven and eight had Bradley 2-under at the turn. He visited the bird sanctuary on both par-5’s on the back and another tweeter on 18 had Bradley’s confidence soaring.
But golf being golf, things can change. Playing in the final group of the final round, Bradley started the day with a three-putt bogey. After picking up one on par on No. 3, Bradley scrambled well on No. 5 after finding water. After a nifty iron to the green, he two-putted to save par.
“To walk off with par after such a bad tee shot, the feeling was no damage done,” Bradley said.
Bradley was 7-under for the championship at the turn and got his final bird of the day on No. 15 to move to minus-9. From there, Bradley relied on a steady stream of two-putt pars
“I’m not concerned. But I’m playing well. At this time, I’m thinking I can put the field away,” he said. “I’m beating the guys I’m playing with. I’m playing Mr. Steady-Eddie golf.”
But, as it turned out, Brandt had made a charge in a group ahead of Bradley. And, with no scoreboards out on the course, it turned out that Bradley’s final putt on 18 was a whole lot more important than originally thought.
“I didn’t realize the putt that I made – a seven- or eight-footer – put me in a playoff,” Bradley later said with a laugh. “I thought it was mine. How was I to know that someone had come out of nowhere?”
No matter. Bradley was clutch on the next green. His 20-foot putt was true and he’s off to Florida in October. And don’t forget the sunscreen, Eric.