The final major championship of the 2012 season tees off this Thursday at the PGA Championship from the Ocean Course at Kiawah Island, and returning champion Keegan Bradley couldn't be in a better position to defend his title.
Bradley, who captured his first career major in his first attempt at last year's tournament, is fresh off an impressive victory last week at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational at Firestone Country Club. Much like he held off Jason Dufner in a playoff nearly 12 months ago to capture the PGA Championship, Bradley overcame a surging Jim Furyk last week to win in Akron.
This week will mark the first time the PGA Tour youngster has defended a major title, and he will have to do so against the deepest major field of the season. Of the 156 players in the tournament field this week, all 100 of the top-100-ranked players will be competing for the first time this season. In comparison, the Masters boasted 70 of the top-100, the U.S. Open, 78, and the British Open, 83.
Sunday's win at Firestone marked Bradley's second victory of the season, which he has already deemed a massive success. However, his first full season on tour remains special to the Boston native.
"It was really an amazing season," said Bradley following his round on Sunday. "It's been nice to look back on it. One of my main goals was to win Rookie of the Year and I was able to do that. I really enjoyed my first year on the PGA Tour. It just was a great time, really fun to look back on, and to top it off with winning the PGA made it kind of a dream season. It still kind of seems like it was a dream."
In preparation for this week's defense at Kiawah Island, Bradley prefers to move forward with business as usual and does not expect to prepare any differently from any other tournament.
"I'm not preparing any differently," Bradley said. "The biggest key is to keep everything constant, what I've always done. I feel as though I'm doing that. And about this time last year, is when I really started to get it rolling, and I went on about a six or seven month stretch of great golf. I love these golf courses at the end of the year. ... It's just an exciting time of the year."