It’s Opening Day -- for the fourth time -- on the PGA Tour, and to hear Keegan Bradley describe the persistent winds that have blown balls off tees and golf hats into next week, teeing it up in Hawaii bears a resemblance to skiing in Vermont.
Only it’s worse, according to the native New Englander who’s in the winners-only field of 30 wind-whipped golfers hoping to get the first tourney of the 2013 season in the books by tomorrow.
“I’ve never felt wind like this,” Bradley said Sunday during one of the seemingly endless weather delays that have plagued the kickoff to this year’s campaign. “Maybe at the top of a ski hill a couple of times, but this is as windy as I’ve ever seen on a golf course.”
Bradley knows a thing or two about biting blasts. After winning the first major championship he entered, the kid who dreamed of becoming a downhill racer recalled the moment he decided to trade in his ski boots for golf spikes.
“It was a slalom at Killington, and I'll never forget it,” Bradley said after capturing the 2011 PGA Championship. “It was raining, cold, sleeting, and I'm at the top of this mountain going, ‘This is not as much fun as golf. I love golf so much more.’
“That was the moment that I realized that I wanted to golf instead of ski....I mean, I was sitting on top of that hill freezing, having no fun, and I said, ‘You know what, I want to be a golfer. This skiing is not as much fun.’”
Fast forward a couple of years and lose the bone-chilling sleet and Bradley found himself battling the elements in what was supposed to be a paid vacation in Paradise for last year’s titleholders. Only, not so much, what with winds gusting to near 50 mph over the past four days and so many fits and starts to the tour’s season-opener a guy could get whiplash.
After yet another frustrating mini-round on Sunday, Bradley had one primary goal should he ever get back to the tee at Kapalua: a fair fight against Mother Nature.
“I think it's important to make sure the golf is fair,” Bradley said about whether play should go on no matter what. “On the greens sometimes, the ball is not staying still and that's when it gets a little dicey. You don't want to see somebody get an unlucky gust and the ball roll off the green or something like that.” (See: Scott Stallings, among other victims of the madness on Maui.)
With the ever-changing plan now to complete 36 holes on Monday and wrap up the 54-hole event on Tuesday, Bradley got off to a rocky start when play finally recommenced -- or commenced again for the first time. With bogeys on the first and fourth holes and birdie on No. 3, the pride of Woodstock, Vt., was 1-over through five with oh, so many holes left to go.