Blog Entry

Bradley's great expectorations have fans in froth

Posted on: February 21, 2012 6:45 pm
Edited on: February 22, 2012 10:47 am

By Steve Elling

MARANA, Ariz. -- Spitting in sports has been around as long as chewing tobacco, pressure situations, big money and nervous individuals.

But rarely in golf has a player run more quickly afoul of the etiquette police than did Keegan Bradley last weekend in Los Angeles.

Playing in the marquee pairing at the Northern Trust Open on Sunday, the promising second-year pro was nervously unleashing a steady stream of spittle and taking several awkward moments to hit shots as he eventually lost in a three-man playoff with Phil Mickelson and winner Bill Haas.

In contention down the stretch, the network cameras focused several times on Bradley's face with tight shots as he reeled off a string of fidgety, rapid-fire spit. This being his 14th month on the PGA Tour, his mind was otherwise occupied with trying to beat seasoned pros like Lefty and Haas.

Almost immediately, his Twitter account went into overload as fans, and even a network broadcaster from the U.K., took him to task for both his unattractive spitting and dawdling, slow play.

"I am kind of glad I don’t have this week off, because Twitter can be brutal," he said Tuesday.

After watching the final-round replay on Sunday night, the reigning PGA Tour Rookie of the Year issued an apology and reiterated Tuesday that the spitting was an unwitting habit he picked up at some point in recent months. He received his trophy for the top-rookie honors Tuesday at the Accenture Match Play Championship, where both his spitting and lengthy pre-shot routine were questioned, just like they were by viewers who sent him some pointed social-media missives.

"I got pounded pretty good," said Bradley, 25. "But that's how Twitter works."

The treatment seems a bit harsh, really. Bradley, already ranked 19th in the world, has played in exactly one major championship and is just getting his feet wet on the big tour. But at this level, he understands that he's expected to set an example.

Or, if he didn't know before, he knows it now.

"I feel bad," he said. "It's something I am going to work on and I ask everybody to kind of bear with me as I go through with this, because it's something I have done without even knowing it."

While he was reeling off the lung cheese in fast succession, the rapidity of his shots was another matter entirely. He was less apologetic about the pace-of-play issue, which seemed to rankle at least as many viewers. Down the stretch at Riviera, he repeatedly stepped toward the ball, then backed off shots, a move similar to that of J.B. Holmes, a notorious tour slowpoke when under the gun.

"It's about visualization, my way of staying not stagnant," Bradley said. "It is a little different. I will take a look at that again. But it's something that I've been doing and it's been working.

"Coming down the stretch, it does come up a little bit. But it doesn’t seem to affect my ability, which is the most important."

Since the start of his rookie season in 2011, which includes wins at Byron Nelson and PGA Championship, Bradley said he has never been put on the clock for slow play.

"I am very much into not hitting it until -- if I'm walking in and I have a bad thought, I'll come back out. I see a lot of players hit shots when they’re thinking, 'don’t hit this in the water, or, 'don't hook this over there.'

"I'm not going to go until I'm ready, until I know I'm going to hit a good shot."

The Great Expectorations blowback has, at least temporarily, obscured the Great Expectations of Bradley's short tenure on tour. He's already shot the low 72-hole score three times and has fast developed a hunger for the spotlight.

Unlike many who blink, the klieg lights didn't bother him at all. Playing alongside Mickelson at the storied 18th at Riviera, one of the great finishing holes in the sport, was something he described as "surreal."

In fact, it's exactly the unquantifiable "something" that separates prime-time players from their average Joe counterparts. Bradley can't wait to get back under competitive duress, which could very well happen this week.

You know how to tell that this kid is different? Most guys could not have mustered an ounce of spittle in that situation, much less a steady stream.

"To be part of history and to be in a Sunday [duel] with Phil or Tiger and hang in there is somethng I have always wondered if I could do," he said. "And I did it, which makes me feel very good."


Since: Apr 26, 2007
Posted on: February 23, 2012 12:48 pm

Bradley's great expectorations have fans in froth

Twitter needs to be banned and outlawed. Aside from that opinion, so what if Keegan Bradley spits alot. Is there a law against it. he doesn't spit on the greens like Tiger did over the pond and got in trouble for it. Cameras were right in Bradley's face the whole time promoting it. Hell, I could count how many freckles he had. Didn't see that many close ups of Phil or Bill Haas to determine how much they spit. Has anyone watched a baseball or football game. Nobody gets ripped on for spitting in those sports. Especially when it's on a field of play that the players are sliding diving, tackling and falling down on. The only reason golf is called a "gentleman's sport" anymore is because you officiate yourself on the rules. An honor system. i would rather see a golfer spit than pound his club into the ground (ala Tiger) and use the "F" word and "GD" word (ala Tiger again) all the time. If it was Tiger spitting like that, nobody would have a word, because Golf Channel, CBS and others kiss Tiger's ass all the time.

Since: Sep 27, 2006
Posted on: February 23, 2012 2:09 am

Bradley's great expectorations have fans in froth

>>> I worry about the other stuff.

I found that other stuff amusing. Set up a drinking game around it!

Since: Aug 30, 2007
Posted on: February 22, 2012 10:35 pm

Bradley's great expectorations have fans in froth

Reason 187 why twitter sucks. 

Since: Jun 19, 2007
Posted on: February 22, 2012 10:25 pm

Bradley's great expectorations have fans in froth

I watched and though Bradley's habits and pace of play were annoying at times how can you blame the kid?  He is playing on Sunday in a tournament with a nearly 1.2 million dollar prize paired with one of the games best golfers.  If any of you were in the same situation he was in on Sunday how would you be?

It seemed to get worse as the round progressed which was most likely due to a number of issues.  A) tight leaderboard with alot of movement.  B) More camera time C) Pressure, cmon has to hit a 12-15 ft birdie to force playoff after you watch Phil sink a long one to do the same thing.  Also, was slow on a few bunker shots that were extremely critical.  Considering all things he did damn good.

Having played competitive golf in the past...I would take any of his mannerisms to play like he did on Sunday.  This kid has alot of talent and if he is playing within the rules of the game whats the problem?  Golf is about forgetting everythine else and playing your game and Keegan did that well. 

Since: Dec 3, 2007
Posted on: February 22, 2012 12:16 pm

Bradley's great expectorations have fans in froth

The need to do something about the slow play...   instead of worrying about the length of the something that is truly killing the game..  SLOW PLAY...   

they need to fine players then suspend them..  it just does not take 3 minutes to attempt a 20 foot putt....  or 3 minutes to hit a 135 yard shot.
It has went beyond ridiculous.  

Since: Sep 16, 2007
Posted on: February 22, 2012 6:47 am

Bradley's great expectorations have fans in froth

Eventually the gallery will force him to change, just as they did with Garcia. They've probably left him alone thus far because he's playing well, but if he does all that stuff and plays poorly, they'll start letting him have it. Imagine him paired with JB Holmes and Ben Crane!

Since: Sep 19, 2011
Posted on: February 21, 2012 10:23 pm

Bradley's great expectorations have fans in froth

Haha, that was Spencer Levin smoking.  That didn't bother me; reminded me of the old days.

I guess you are right about Keegan's rehearsals.  If he's not playing slow, but just making things inconvenient for the TV crews (who switch to him to televise the shot, not the rehearsals), then I'm with you.

I suspect we've seen the last of the spitting.  Seeing how silly he looked on television should be a quick cure.  If he continues to spit, I will truly think he has an OCD problem.

Since: Feb 14, 2012
Posted on: February 21, 2012 10:10 pm

Bradley's great expectorations have fans in froth

I wonder if the cameras didn't get closer because of what he was doing? Sometimes I think TV wants to show the bad side.  I also noticed others spitting during the telecast. As for moving off the ball it was distarcting to watch but in golf it not whether it is distarcting to watch but if it make the person a better golfer.  He did say that as of yet he hasn't been put on the clock for slow play. To see a young up and coming American golfer is better than worrying about whether he has a wet or dry month and whether he wants to see each shot before he hits the ball.  I love watching him play. Who was it a coulpe of weeks ago puffing on the cigrettes in the final group, now that I can live without see on TV.  

Since: Sep 19, 2011
Posted on: February 21, 2012 7:39 pm

Bradley's great expectorations have fans in froth

I recently heard -- I think on Golf Channel -- that Keegan didn't have these OCD behaviors when he played on the Nationwide Tour.  Some guy who covered him every week said flat-out Keegan didn't do it back then.  The spitting should be easy enough to stop.  I worry about the other stuff.

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