Hanging on the Telephone: Bradley Hoping For Call to Join Ryder Cup Team

  • Woodstock native Keegan Bradley signs autographs before the start of a benefit tournament and clinic held at the Woodstock Country Club in Woodstock, Vt., on August 25, 2014. <br/>(Valley News - Sarah Priestap)

    Woodstock native Keegan Bradley signs autographs before the start of a benefit tournament and clinic held at the Woodstock Country Club in Woodstock, Vt., on August 25, 2014.
    (Valley News - Sarah Priestap) Purchase photo reprints »

  • Keegan Bradley, of Woodstock, passes back a visor to Yvonne Frates of Woodstock during an autograph session before a benefit tournament at the Woodstock Country Club in Woodstock, Vt., on August 25, 2014. <br/>(Valley News - Sarah Priestap)

    Keegan Bradley, of Woodstock, passes back a visor to Yvonne Frates of Woodstock during an autograph session before a benefit tournament at the Woodstock Country Club in Woodstock, Vt., on August 25, 2014.
    (Valley News - Sarah Priestap) Purchase photo reprints »

  • Woodstock's Keegan Bradley, now a golfer on the PGA tour, answers questions during a clinic before a benefit tournament at the Woodstock Country Club in Woodstock, Vt., on August 25, 2014. <br/>(Valley News - Sarah Priestap)

    Woodstock's Keegan Bradley, now a golfer on the PGA tour, answers questions during a clinic before a benefit tournament at the Woodstock Country Club in Woodstock, Vt., on August 25, 2014.
    (Valley News - Sarah Priestap) Purchase photo reprints »

  • Woodstock native Keegan Bradley shows off his driving skills during a mini-clinic before a benefit tournament at the Woodstock Country Club in Woodstock, Vt.,  on August 25, 2014. <br/>(Valley News - Sarah Priestap)

    Woodstock native Keegan Bradley shows off his driving skills during a mini-clinic before a benefit tournament at the Woodstock Country Club in Woodstock, Vt., on August 25, 2014.
    (Valley News - Sarah Priestap) Purchase photo reprints »

  • Woodstock native Keegan Bradley signs autographs before the start of a benefit tournament and clinic held at the Woodstock Country Club in Woodstock, Vt., on August 25, 2014. <br/>(Valley News - Sarah Priestap)
  • Keegan Bradley, of Woodstock, passes back a visor to Yvonne Frates of Woodstock during an autograph session before a benefit tournament at the Woodstock Country Club in Woodstock, Vt., on August 25, 2014. <br/>(Valley News - Sarah Priestap)
  • Woodstock's Keegan Bradley, now a golfer on the PGA tour, answers questions during a clinic before a benefit tournament at the Woodstock Country Club in Woodstock, Vt., on August 25, 2014. <br/>(Valley News - Sarah Priestap)
  • Woodstock native Keegan Bradley shows off his driving skills during a mini-clinic before a benefit tournament at the Woodstock Country Club in Woodstock, Vt.,  on August 25, 2014. <br/>(Valley News - Sarah Priestap)

Woodstock — Some folks stress about Christmas. Professional golfers stress about late August. In a week, however, Keegan Bradley could be celebrating like Santa Claus left him a puppy under the tree.

On Monday evening, on live television, on the soundstage that Saturday Night Live normally occupies, captain Tom Watson will name the final three golfers to join the United States roster for next month’s Ryder Cup matches in Scotland. Bradley, the one-time Woodstock resident and Woodstock Union High golfer, very much hopes to hear his name called.

Bradley had no such worries two years ago, when he automatically qualified for the squad and contributed three points during an eventual 14½-13½ loss to Europe at Medinah Country Club near Chicago. Having missed the cutoff to join the team without stress this time, Bradley has one last chance to impress Watson starting Friday at TPC Boston in the Deutsche Bank Championship, which also happens to be the second round of the PGA Tour’s four-week, season-ending playoffs.

So let’s count the layers of agita again: Ryder Cup. Tour playoffs. The everyday uncertainties that every golfer experiences. No wonder Bradley pulled the jitters out of his golf bag on Monday.

“I’m nervous,” the 28-year-old confessed prior to his fundraising Keegan Bradley Charity Golf Classic at Woodstock Country Club. “I really want to be on that team. It’s a tough time to sit and wait. I have one more event. If I go out and play well, I’ll be on the team. That’s something that I need to go and do.”

The third edition of Bradley’s charity tournament brought plenty of familiar faces. Friend and fellow touring pro Brendan Steele joined again, as did Bradley’s golf pro father, Mark, and Hall of Fame aunt, Pat, along with assorted acquaintances and relations. (Bradley also had a golf bag on the Woodstock putting green for his mother, Kaye, embossed with the words “The Mum.”)

The tournament raises money for the Pediatric Cancer Research Foundation’s work with the Vermont Cancer Center and Vermont Children’s Hospital. Affected by a Rolling Stone cover story on heroin use in Vermont, Bradley added the opiate addiction research and treatment programs at the University of Vermont and Fletcher Allen Health Care to his beneficiaries list this time around.

The Classic is the closest thing to down time self-professed “golf nerd” Bradley has at this time of year. And returning the Ryder Cup is hovering over it.

“I’m hoping it’s good news,” Bradley said. “I didn’t qualify on my own, so I’m up to the fate of someone’s decision. I want to be on the team more than anything in the world. If that counts for anything, I’ll be in good shape.”

Bradley’s chances of going to Scotland weren’t certain earlier in the year. A good midseason run of form — and some one-on-one time with Watson — improved his fortunes.

Bradley has tied for fourth place three times since early summer, twice at pretty big moments — the U.S. Open in June and the World Golf Championship Bridgestone Invitational earlier this month. He also finished well at the British Open, netting back-to-back 69s to crack the top 20, and prefaced that tournament by joining Watson to scout the Gleneagles Golf Club that will host the Ryder Cup on Sept. 25-28.

“It’s a big deal for golfers,” Bradley described. “Playing for your country, being on that team, is something that you can’t even describe to people. It’s an electric feeling. You crave that feeling, that fun, that comes with it. It’s tough to put out of your mind.

“I went over the week before the British Open and played 18 holes with Tom Watson. I’ve been over there. I like the course. I like the captain. I like the assistants. I’m hoping I get some good news.”

Furthermore, history could work to his advantage. Bradley and Phil Mickelson, close friends on the tour, were an unbeatable pairing at Medinah, combining to win three foursome and four-ball matches as the U.S. built a 10-6 lead before fading in final-day singles play.

“I have a lot of passion for the event,” Bradley said. “It seems to bring out a great side of me, good golf. Phil and I have been really tough as partners. If we go another year together, we’re going to do better.”

Circumstance could also come to Bradley’s aid.

One automatic bid for Scotland opened earlier this summer when Dustin Johnson put himself on a voluntary sabbatical for personal reasons. Media speculation that Tiger Woods might draw one of Watson’s slots — anyone not named Tiger Woods would have been bypassed with Woods’ 2014 performance statistics — ended when the 14-time major winner dropped out of the picture to concentrate on rehabbing recent injuries. Another likely selection, Jason Dufner, hasn’t played since withdrawing from the PGA Championship with an injury two weeks ago; according to his website, Dufner hasn’t committed to any of the PGA Tour’s Fedex Cup playoff events.

“It definitely helps my chances,” Bradley noted. “Tiger was an automatic pick if he wasn’t on the team most years. Dufner is such a great player. Most importantly, I want the team to win. I want the best team to be out there.”

Coming back to Woodstock remains a personal highlight for Bradley. With his father working a crowd of about 100, his aunt joining the day after missing last year’s event and Steele adding his friendly give-and-take, Bradley’s tournament held a family feel.

Ten months and more than two dozen tournaments since the PGA Tour campaign started, hosting a charity event is as relaxed an environment either golfer is likely to manage for a while.

“I had an epiphany last year, and I haven’t done as well with it as I would like to, but I realized I’d played three full years on tour and hadn’t really taken a break at all,” Steele said. “Even when the PGA Tour is not in season, you have things you can play. I’ve got to take a break every now and then, give myself a chance to recharge and be excited to get out and play. That’s tough to do.”

That said, one phone call would go a long way toward reducing Bradley’s stress level.

Greg Fennell can be reached at gfennell@vnews.com or 603-727-3226.