Keegan Bradley jumped into contention Saturday at the Arnold Palmer Invitational and credited Michael Jordan for his 6-under 66 and revamped game face.
“I was talking to M.J. a bunch this season, and he was telling me to play much more cocky,” Bradley said after moving from eight shots behind 36-hole leader Justin Rose to four back of third-round frontrunner Tiger Woods. “He wants me to play with a lot more aggression and be cocky and just like I’m playing him, which is normally a pretty good beating.”
Yeah, that M.J., Bradley assured reporters at Bay Hill.
“I texted him last night and told him I did what he was saying for the entire round today,” the 2011 PGA champion said. “I just was going out there and pretending I was him.”
Bradley, who began Monday’s weather-delayed final round three shots off the pace of Woods’ 12-under, is not the only touring pro who believes he can learn something from Jordan about mental toughness. Ernie Els and Luke Donald have also picked the brain of the reputed 4-handicapper and Ryder Cup enthusiast.
“He’s good for the mind,” Donald told the Telegraph last month about his work with the NBA Hall of Famer and long-time golfing partner of Woods. “He’s been making sure I’m ready mentally.”
As for Bradley, who hit 14 of 14 fairways on Saturday, he carried his lessons from golf’s newest mental coach into the early going on Monday, when he birdied the sixth hole to move to within two of Woods (though Bradley fell back with a bogey on No. 9 while Woods added birdies on four and six).
“I’m learning through him what the mental side of what he was thinking and that’s a big help to me,” said Bradley, who plays regular -- and lucrative -- rounds with His Airness.
“Definitely easiest money I’ve ever made,” Bradley said. “I give him five a side.”