BROOKLINE — A round that sent him to his hands and knees ended with his fists raised high.
Keegan Bradley fought his putter on Sunday at the US Open, ending his chase for the trophy. But after capping a seventh-place finish with a final-round 71, he saluted a crowd that had his back the whole way.
They hollered encouragement wherever he went at The Country Club, often simply calling out his various New England associations: “802!” for his hometown of Woodstock, Vt., “Hillers!” for his schoolboy days at Hopkinton High, “Go Sox!” for his hardcore support of Boston teams, which he wore all over his spikes.
The gallery saved the most meaningful tributes for last. Hundreds around the 18th hole showered him with more “Kee-gan! Kee-gan!” thunder as he walked to the green. This was the week Bradley felt like a Boston sports hero.
“Man, I’ll remember that for the rest of my life,” he said. “It was really special. I’m happy that my family was here to see that, and it was just amazing.”
Keegan Bradley said he’ll remember this ovation — walking up to the 18th green — for the rest of his life. pic.twitter.com/ylQOSNYl6F— matt porter (@mattyports) June 19, 2022
Bradley, flanked by his 4-year-old son, Logan, during a postround interview, had family, friends and high school teammates in attendance. Bradley and his family live in Jupiter, Fla., but plan to spend the summer up here — Bradley, mostly, being a dad.
“There’s a part of me that’s still happy that it’s over,” Bradley said. “I’m tapped out. What a week. I had the best time. I’m so thankful for the fans of New England and Boston. I’m proud of the way I played. I wish I had putted a little better today, but that’s the way it goes.”
Starting in a tie for fourth (2 under), Bradley fell off the leaderboard after bogeying his first three holes. The undulating greens bedeviled him, his putter failing him early.
Bradley is more deliberate than most in lining up his short strokes. He straddles his line. He studies his pointer finger to read the break. He is not a quick worker. At times, it may have felt like he was prolonging the agony.
He was in the sand on No. 1, but gave himself a chance for birdies on 2 and 3. He rolled each of his putts over the edge of the cup.
That was right in line with his starts earlier in the week. Bradley started 3 over in each of the previous two days. On Friday, he finished with six birdies in the final 12 holes. Saturday saw him card five birdies in that stretch. On Sunday, he birdied 7, 8, 11, and 17, but couldn’t keep pace with the lead pack.
“I got off to bad starts the last three days in a row, like horrible, horrible starts, and I sort of battled back,” Bradley said. “I told my caddie on — I think it was the 12th hole — I’ve got to really try to enjoy this coming in. Something I never really take a second to do, because I may never really get this opportunity again, and I did that.”
He was muttering to himself on 14, after missing a 22-footer for birdie, but handed out a dozen or so fist-bumps to the crowd on the way to the par-4 15th. There, he sank to all fours after sending his approach into the bunker. He carded a bogey.
He got back into the top 10 with that birdie on 17, getting back to 1 under total. He could have had a top-five finish if he had made a 24-footer on 18, but he finished with a par. His 70-69-69-71 earned him a prize of $515,934. Adam Hadwin and Denny McCarthy also tied for seventh.
Bradley, ranked 47th in the world, registered his second-best US Open finish, following his T-4 at Pinehurst in 2014. He did not play the tournament last year, after four cuts in five years. His last result at the US Open was T-60th at Erin Hills in 2017.
He is still searching for his second major, 11 years after his 2011 PGA Championship win. Clearly, he would love another chance to earn some hardware in Brookline.
“I think it’s one of the best golf courses in the world, and alongside probably the best sports fans in the world. Combine those two, and you get this out here,” he said. “The Country Club is spectacular. I absolutely loved it. It’s my favorite US Open venue I’ve ever played. Any time you get to play a tournament in Boston, it’s electric. The fans are the best.”
Read more US Open 2022 stories:
- How it happened: Matt Fitzpatrick holds off Scottie Scheffler, Will Zalatoris to win US Open at The Country Club
- Major championship might have been even sweeter for longtime caddie Bill Foster
- For US Open champion Matt Fitzpatrick, friends became family
- Will Zalatoris gracious, but can’t hide his pain after another almost in a major
- Masters champion Scottie Scheffler again done in after the turn at The Country Club
- Rory McIlroy close, but major drought continues as he finishes tied for fifth at US Open
Matt Porter can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter: @mattyports.