Keegan Bradley knew playing in the 2022 U.S. Open at The Country Club, a course he called the “crown jewel” of New England, would be special.
Bradley, while speaking with reporters before the tournament started, shared that the fact his family never talked to him about playing the major championship in Brookline, well, that was an indication into how much it meant. After all, Bradley attended Hopkinton High School some 30 miles away from the historic layout after growing up in the golf-friendly climate of Vermont.
But it’s safe to assume Bradley couldn’t even imagine how special it would be.
“Honestly, it was one of the most amazing moments of my entire life,” Bradley told reporters when asked about the reception he received walking up the par-4 18th hole during Saturday’s third round, per a provided transcript.
“I got to feel what it feels like to play in Fenway, to play in the Garden, to play in Gillette Stadium,” Bradley said. “I felt like a Boston player there. That was a moment I’ll never forget the rest of my life, and I appreciate the fans giving me that, and I hope to have them cheer again tomorrow.”
Bradley expected to have some 25 family members and friends in the crowd during each of the four rounds. His homecoming got started while throwing out the first pitch at Fenway Park on Tuesday, which he did in front of another 20 family members and friends.
“As a kid, I dream of playing in front of Boston fans and being a Patriot or being in the Garden,” Bradley said. “Most of the time I’m playing across the world or the country, and I’m by myself. And every now and then I’m in Hartford and I get to feel that, or in a Ryder Cup. Out here today felt like I was in a home game, which is something that as a kid, it’s a dream.”
Bradley added: “I’ve tried really hard this week to look into the crowd and see the people. Every now and then I’ll look, and I’ll see an aunt or an uncle or a friend, and it’s really, really fun. The crowds as usual here in Boston I think are the best in the world. Pretty fun.”
Bradley has put himself in position to gain that sort of treatment again Sunday. The winner of the 2011 PGA Championship carded a 1-under par 69 on Saturday with five birdies overshadowing his four bogies.
Bradley now sits in a tie for fourth place at 2-under par 208 on the tournament. He was able to jump up the leaderboard after scoring in the red, unlike so many that entered the round atop the leaderboard. Bradley was one of seven golfers in the field — yes, you read that correctly — who scored in the red.
Will Zalatoris and Matt Fitzpatrick are tied for the lead at a 4-under par 206 after three days. Zalatoris shot 3-under 67 in the third round, the best of the day, while Fitzpatrick carded 2-under 68. Jon Rahm sits in third place (3-under 207) after his 1-over par 71 Saturday.
Both leaders entering the weekend — Joel Dahmen and Collin Morikawa — fell down the leaderboard. Dahmen shot 4-over 74 while Morikawa carded a brutal 7-over 77.
Bradley will tee off with Rahm on Sunday at 2:34 p.m. ET in the second to last pairing.
You can follow along with NESN’s coverage from The Country Club here.