LAS VEGAS, NV. – Notes and observations from Friday’s incomplete second round of the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open, where Rod Pampling leads by one shot over Brooks Koepka. For more from TPC Summerlin, check out the Daily Wrap-up.
Upcoming nuptials can give some people crippling nerves but it appears to be the opposite for Keegan Bradley.
With his wedding slated for early next month Bradley has shown a mini renaissance after the toughest season of his career in 2015-16.
The 2011 PGA TOUR Rookie of the Year finished 103rd on the FedExCup last season, the first time in his career he did not progress to at least the BMW Championship, posting just two top 10s.
But after a solid T22 at the Safeway Open and a 6th place finish at the CIMB Classic the three-time TOUR winner produced his second straight 5-under 66 to move into contention at 10-under, just four shots off the lead and tie fifth here in Las Vegas.
Bradley has also recently been attending weddings of close friends, including fellow TOUR pro Jon Curran, and admits the wedding circuit has been a boost for him.
“Yeah, definitely. It’s been fun,” Bradley said of all the wedding “distractions”.
“It’s crazy that it is happening so soon, but it was great to see my buddy Jon get married, also my buddy George. I was in his wedding right before Napa, so I’ve been in the wedding circuit for sure.
“I’ve basically been around the world once, and I’ve been to three weddings in the last month. It’s been a tough run, but a lot of fun.”
Bradley is mindful of getting away quickly in the FedExCup after finishing January last season down in 115th position. He began this week 17th and is currently projected to rise to 13th although he has a higher number in mind as he chases win No. 4.
“I got off to such a slow start last year, it was tough to kind of fight back, so now I’m putting myself in a position to be kind of out ahead, and it’s awesome,” Bradley said.
“My game feels really good. I’ve been playing good for a while now. It’s nice to see some results.
“This is as well-rounded of a two rounds as I’ve played in a long time.”
Kirk’s putting resurgence
Four-time PGA TOUR winner Chris Kirk is making a habit of contending early this season and he knows exactly what to give credit to – his putter.
Off the back of a T8 at the Safeway Open and a T2 at the Sanderson Farms Championship Kirk put up a 6-under 65 on Friday in Las Vegas to move into fourth place at 11-under.
Kirk sits fifth in the field at TPC Summerlin in Strokes Gained: Putting through two rounds – a welcome continuation of his recent putting prowess.
Ranked 11th for the new season leading into this week Kirk has lifted from 98th last season and T90 the season before.
“Last year my putting was very, very inconsistent and not very good most of the year, statistically probably my worst putting year I’ve had since I’ve been on TOUR,” Kirk said.
“But I’ve worked on a few things, and it’s just kind of felt good for most of this fall, so that’s obviously a game changer. My swing has been pretty decent all year, but just making some putts, you know how that goes. Momentum gets on your side and it just kind of flows a lot better out there.”
Shouldering the Load
Pat Perez admits he has been extremely nervous at times as he works his way back after a near eight-month injury layoff.
Perez made his return from a shoulder injury in Malaysia at the CIMB Classic and was a respectable T33 but he has hit the ground running now he is back stateside.
A pair of 5-under 66s at TPC Summerlin has him sitting T5 at 10-under and in great position to put a significant dent in his Major Medical exemption.
Perez has 14 starts left, including this one, to accumulate 399.577 FedExCup points or $633,067.
“I’m just excited to get back. It’s really nice. I played good on the weekend in Malaysia, and I carried it over here,” he said.
“I got nervous over here because it’s a little different. You know you’ve got to shoot low, and I’ve played at home a lot, but it’s just awesome to be back and see some putts go in and hit some shots where I think they should go and hit it long. I’m really excited by it.
“I’ve put some new equipment in that’s helped me hit it straighter and longer, and I feel great. My shoulder is 100 percent, and just really looking forward to having a good year.”
When the first round was officially completed early Friday morning Chez Reavie was almost dead last in the field at T141 after his 5-over 76.
Thanks to Rod Pampling’s scintillating 60 he sat 16 shots adrift of the leader.
But the 2008 RBC Canadian Open champion refused to throw in the towel and rebounded with a brilliant 10-under 61 to ensure weekend play.
Reavie had the 59-watch on late in the round when he eagled the 16th to get to 10-under, meaning a birdie birdie finish would get it done.
“I was just cruising. I knew then I had a chance, but it was still kind of a long shot. But yeah, you never knew what was going to happen,” he said.
But he missed the green on the par-3 17th and settled for a par finish.
“The next hole you kind of take one less club because you know you’re kind of amped up and I pushed it just a little bit but didn’t hit a bad shot.
“It’s a tough hole, so I was just trying to make sure I was playing tomorrow, as well.”