Pat Bradley
Pat Bradley Contributed photo
World golf Hall of Famer Pat Bradley has gained a new measure of fame. Meet Aunt Pat.
Two decades after playing her way into the Hall of Fame in the midst of an LPGA Tour career that included 36 worldwide wins and six major championships, Bradley is better known these days as the aunt of newly crowned PGA Championship winner Keegan Bradley.
"I am a very proud aunt, that's what I am," said Pat Bradley, who will be in the Quad-Cities on Sunday and Monday as a marquee participant in the annual Genesis Pro-Am Challenge.
"It was just an incredible win," Bradley, 60, said of her 23-year-old nephew's rally from five shots down with three holes to play en route to a playoff victory at the Atlanta Athletic Club on Sunday. "This is one for the ages, I think. It was just so exciting."
The Bradleys are believed to be among four families with multiple major champions, joining the 19th century British Open-winning tandems of Old and Young Tom Morris and Willie Park Sr. and Jr., as well as 1977 PGA Championship winner Lanny Wadkins and his brother Bobby, who won the 2005 Senior Players Championship.
Pat Bradley's storied career included winning three LPGA majors in 1986 alone and 31 LPGA titles overall in the span of a 21-year career that ended in 1995.
She was a two-time LPGA Player of the Year, battled Graves disease over a two-year span in the late 1980s and was described by noted golf psychologist Dr. Bob Rotella as the most mentally tough athlete he had encountered.
But she said she never faced quite the same challenge Keegan Bradley did when he stepped to the 16th tee on Sunday following a watery triple-bogey on the par-3 15th hole.
"Never," she said. "And that's what makes Keegan so special, because he was up against the wall and he took it like a champion and never lost sight of the trophy or the championship.
"When that triple happened, I could see it in his eyes. He was totally focused on getting it done."
In the aftermath of the second win of a remarkable rookie season, Keegan Bradley mentioned his father's sister's own legendary focus.
"I remember as a kid going to her tournaments and literally staring her in the face and I'm her nephew, and she was so into it, she would not even recognize me," he said in his post-win news conference. "And I thought that was cool. I always wanted to be like her."
Pat Bradley said she admires Keegan's ability to focus and still drink in the moment.
"When I played I was totally single-minded in what I was doing," she said. "I had to put my whole heart and soul into the process. The nice thing with Keegan is he can focus in and still let it go and absorb it all."
But if the emotional young golfer didn't learn how to pump a fist from his Aunt Pat, she did show him a thing or two about how to hit fist-pump worthy golf shots.
"We played quite a few times," she said, noting her nephew was blowing drives past hers as early as junior high. "It wasn't like Keegan questioned me on every little thing that I might have done in the round.
"But I could see him watching me. I could feel him watching how I approached a shot or a par putt that I needed. He was absorbing the things I did as we played. A lot of that registered, a little bit, I think on Sunday."
When Keegan Bradley won the Byron Nelson Classic in May, he was identified as the nephew of Pat Bradley.
Bradley expects the roles will be reversed when she takes the tee on Monday at Short Hills Country Club in East Moline to greet her pro-am partners.
"I think that's going to add a buzz," she said of her nephew's big victory. "I think they will be excited to spend the day with the aunt of the latest PGA champion."