Keegan Bradley will be making his Presidents Cup debut this week, but the 2011 PGA champ and Rookie of the Year is no newbie when it comes to team play.
The 27-year-old belly putter lit a fire in the belly of his partner, Phil Mickelson, last year at Medinah with his youthful vitality and energy and, despite a winless 2013, there’s every reason to believe the excitable Bradley will bring the same enthusiasm to the clubhouse at Muirfield Village.
Look for Bradley to team up again with his left-handed mentor after the duo went 3-0 as partners in an overall losing Ryder Cup effort
"I love -- love! -- playing with this man," Mickelson said a year ago after golf’s power couple dismantled Luke Donald and Sergio Garcia, 4 and 3, in opening-round foursomes and romped to a 2 and 1 win over then-world No. 1 Rory McIlroy and Graeme McDowell in their afternoon fourball match.
"He's just so much fun, loves the game, and plays with such excitement," an ebullient Mickelson added. "And, man, can he roll the rock."
Bradley, of course, returned the compliment to his long-time idol.
"I love playing with him," Bradley said after going 2-0 in his Ryder Cup start and lifting Mickelson to his first-ever two-win opening day against the Europeans. "I wish I could go 36 more."
Bradley has also formed a lasting bond with Jason Dufner, who will make his Presidents Cup debut later this week. His homage to the Dufman, when Bradley, who was instrumental in sending "Dufnering" viral, struck a pose after holing out for eagle in the Tour Championship finale was an instant classic.
"I've wanted to do it all year. I thought, if I get the chance to do it, I'm going to do it. I didn't expect to make that shot," Bradley gushed to reporters after sharing, fittingly, 12th place with Mickelson at East Lake. " I told Duff, ‘I don't care what happens.’ It was the highlight of the year for me."
Dufner, who said he would "absolutely not" see himself partnered with Bradley this week ("He said I get too excited," Bradley conceded), had a slightly different take on his pal’s antics.
"I was pissed because he holed out and he went past me on the leaderboard and took a two‑up advantage in total hole‑outs [for the season]," said Dufner, who deadpanned that Bradley was not popular enough for "the Keegan" to become part of Twitter lore. "It was pretty lucky the hole‑out shot like that from the fairway."
World Ranking: 15
Qualified: Automatic spot No. 6 of 10
Presidents Cup Match Play Record: This is his debut.