PGA champ and New England golfer Keegan Bradley may make it onto the 2011 U.S. President Cup team yet. Unfortunately, the PGA Tour rookie from Vermont, who told reporters he would be “devastated” not to make the squad, could get his chance at the expense of ailing Prez Cup veteran Steve Stricker.
Stricker, who planned to have an MRI on his ailing left arm on Tuesday, withdrew from the BMW Championship almost two weeks ago but played and finished 15th at last week’s Tour Championship. He said on Saturday he planned to go to Australia for the biennial matches with the International team unless his physician saw additional problems with the herniated disk and bone spur he found last December.
No harm done. “The doctor told me on Monday he feels like I can’t hurt it by playing, so that’s why the MRI was put off until after I’m done,” Stricker told reporters after scoring a third-round 69 at East Lake Golf Club. “He made a good point, to do the MRI after this week so I could really just concentrate on playing and not worry about what the MRI said.”
Stricker sounded discouraged on Friday, noting that a cortisone shot the week before had not helped his arm regain strength and that he was considering surgery. A day later, the 44-year-old who rang up a 4-0 record with partner Tiger Woods at the 2009 Presidents Cups reported he had no pain, which, his doctor told him, was “a good sign.”
Still, Stricker wanted to undergo the MRI to see if he could learn anything new about why his arm continued to feel weak. Should the world’s fourth-ranked golfer not be able to play at Royal Melbourne Golf Club in November, U.S. captain Fred Couples would have another pick, which could put Bradley back in the picture.
Bradley, who told reporters after finishing T11 at the Tour Championship he would be “devastated” not to make the team, was on Couples’ short list of candidates for the final wild-card spot. Couples has said he would make Woods his first pick and will officially announce his choices on Tuesday at 5 p.m. The odds were in favor of Tour Championship/FedEx Cup victor Bill Haas making the final cut.
Haas was on Couples’ radar screen before his playoff win in the FedEx Cup finale on Sunday. The 29-year-old son of Presidents Cup assistant captain Jay Haas had amassed two PGA Tour wins and 19 top-25 finishes in the two years prior to capturing the $10 million bonus that came with his FedEx Cup triumph. His win Sunday also moved him from 45th to 20th in the world golf rankings.
Bradley, for his part, has two wins in his first season in the bigs, including that major championship. Before East Lake, Couples said he considered the 25-year-old nephew of LPGA Hall of Famer Pat Bradley one of three “obvious” options for the remaining spot on the 12-player team. A T11 finish on Sunday, however, was likely not good enough to earn the Hopkinton (Mass.) High School and St. John’s University grad a trip Down Under.
Deserving of honor. Indeed, Bradley told reporters that Haas deserved the award and that he was honored just to be nominated.
“Besides Billy winning I think I did enough [to earn Couples’ consideration],” said Bradley, who conceded the desire to make the team may have contributed to a case of pre-tourney nerves. “It’s good for [Haas], though, he’s under a lot of pressure. I think that’s the most impressive thing when guys go out and play well under that type of pressure.”
The golfer who missed the cut at Boston’s Deutsche Bank Championship after a whirlwind week in The Hub also said he could live with the disappointment of being left behind because he expected to be in the running for the Presidents Cup for years to come.
“I hope this isn’t my best year,” Bradley told Golfweek’s Jim McCabe, “because I know I’m going to contend for a lot of other teams.”