Keegan Bradley's guilt complex
It doesn't take much to make Keegan Bradley feel guilty. Hence the reason the PGA champion was one of the first to take to the practice ground for this week's WGC-HSBC Champions at Sheshan.
"It's the same every week," said the 25-year-old Bradley. "I usually get to the next venue on a Sunday night and start work on the Monday. There are lots of players who laugh at me and say, 'Bradley, you need to take a day off!' but, at least at the moment, it's something I have to do. If I didn't turn up on Mondays I'd feel guilty."
Normally, he will play nine holes but today, because he was feeling tired, he opted to spend a couple of hours working on his chipping and putting and generally familiarising himself with the Sheshan complex.
Tomorrow, he will play 18 holes with Jim Furyk, another "get-ahead-of-the-clock" man. "Jim," he said of the 2003 US Open champion, "is one of my great heroes and I like to think I go about things in much the same way as he does. He feels pride in getting his homework done."
Yet it is Bradley's aunt, Pat Bradley, once a major-winner on the LGA Tour, who has had the greater influence on him. Almost without realising it, he picked up on her work ethic. Indeed, it was only recently that the two of them discovered that each felt as badly as the other at the mere thought of taking a day off. "We agreed that it took a good thunder-storm to force us to have a break," he chuckled.
Pat's mental approach - she was endlessly positive - has probably had as much of an impact on her nephew as anything else. Here, he learned by example.
"I don't remember too much about the way she hit her shots, but I can see her now walking down the fairways and on to the greens. She was so focussed. She was never conscious of what was happening around her.
"I'm her nephew and there were times when I was a little boy when I would run up and say 'Hi!' and she would look at me without actually seeing me." Other children in Keegan's situation might have burst into tears but this young golfer-in-the-making thought it was "cool".
Keegan says he is not yet in Pat's league in this department, though he was heartened when some good friends came up to him not so long ago and said they had enjoyed catching his eye out at the seventh. "The thing was," said Bradley, "that I hadn't even noticed them."
First impressions count for a lot and, even though Bradley had still to step on to a course about which he has heard so much, he was enjoying good vibes about the week and was quick to tweet as much.
"Got my lucky 13," he began in a reference to the locker he had been allocated, before adding, "So far, I've never seen anything like this HSBC tournament."
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