AVONDALE, LA - APRIL 27: Keegan Bradley lines up a putt on the 11th hole during the second round of the Zurich Classic at TPC Louisiana on April 27, 2012 in Avondale, Louisiana. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
Defending Byron Nelson champ Keegan Bradley understands what Kevin Na is going through -- up to a point.
Speed of play is hardly a new problem on the PGA Tour (see: Ben Crane, circa 2005), and Kevin Na -- with his pokey pace at last week’s Players Championship -- was not the first pro golfer to raise the ire of those whose blood boils ever faster with each pre-shot twitch and tic (see: Kevin Na -- well, any time since he joined the PGA Tour). Indeed, Luke Donald complained about his colleagues’ comatose clip in the first event of 2012 -- and the once-and-future No. 1 wasn’t even playing in the tournament.
Responding to Donald’s claim on Twitter back in January that “Slow play is killing our sport,” ESPN analyst Paul Azinger tweeted back that the issue came up “at most player meetings i’ve been to since my rookie year..1982."
Tuesday, with the season almost half over and the same old issue back in the spotlight, the defending champ of this week’s Byron Nelson Championship added his voice to the choir. Keegan Bradley agreed with Tiger Woods’ recent assessment that tour officials might have to add stiffer punishments for slow play. But the reigning PGA champ and Rookie of the Year, who has taken some heat for his methods on the course, also lauded Na for owning up to his faults.
“I think that Kevin handled it well,” Bradley told reporters about Na’s response to widespread criticisms about his jittery rituals and the ugly taunting he received from the TPC Sawgrass gallery because of them. “It seemed like he was struggling against himself a little bit out there, but I give him credit for coming forward and talking about it and I sympathize with him. It's a touchy subject because you don't want to affect the other players in your group.”
Bradley, whose own idiosyncrasies did not really come to light last season, apologized to the golf world back in February for repeatedly spitting during overtime at the 2012 Northern Trust Open and for what critics viewed as a drawn-out routine prior to each shot. He -- like Na -- shouldered the blame for his actions and pledged to do better.
As with his habit of incessant expectorating, Bradley said he was oblivious to how he repeatedly backed off each shot during his playoff with Phil Mickelson and Bill Haas and might consider adjustments.
"It's something that you don't even really realize you're doing when you're in the heat of it," he said at the time. "I will take a look at it and see if there's any improvements that I can make."
Tuesday, referring to his efforts to speed up his approach, Bradley said that -- unlike Na -- officials had never put him on the clock.
“I’ve never felt that I have affected others, which if I did,” he acknowledged, “I would be mortified.”