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Bradley Soars in Malaysia
While first-round leader Ryan Moore faltered, Keegan Bradley stayed hot in the CIMB Classic. The $7 million PGA Tour event began Thursday at Kuala Lumpur Golf and Country Club in Malaysia.
The 27-year-old Bradley, a native of Vermont, followed up his opening 7-under 65 with a 66 to reach 13-under 131, four strokes ahead of Moore, who shot 63 in the opening round but had an even-par 72 Friday.
Over 36 holes Bradley has carded 14 birdies and just one bogey, with the latter coming on the par-4 13th hole on the second day. "These last two rounds were really fun," he said. "Some of the best golf I've played in a long time. So this was a really fun couple of days. Obviously, I'm in a great spot here with two rounds to go."
But Bradley knows victory is far from sewed up. "I'm going to keep doing, playing the same, being aggressive. There are a lot of great players in this field that are going to be chasing me. So for me to go out and shoot a good round tomorrow is going to be very important for Sunday." (See below for Bradley's full post-round interview.)
Moore never got untracked after his strong opening effort, posting three birdies and the same number of bogeys Friday. "Obviously, it wasn't the round I had yesterday, but it, amazingly enough, wasn't too dissimilar. I actually controlled the ball really well. Obviously, just didn't make any putts, but I still hit some pretty good shots overall.
"I hit the ball. I was happy with my ball-striking. I didn't get it around the hole, but I had my wedges and 9 irons in my hands. I just didn't get it to those 8 to 12 footers. I seemed to be in that 15 to 20 foot range today and just wasn't able to convert them."
Five behind Bradley is Thailand's Kiradech Aphibarnrat and American Chris Stroud, who both shot 69s, while another stroke back in a tie for fifth are Spain's Sergio Garcia (71) and Australian Marc Leishman, who matched Bradley for Friday's low round of 65.
Phil Mickelson opened with a 71 and shot 70 in the second round, and defending champion Nick Watney improved six strokes with a 69 after starting with a 75.
Despite having a lower score, Mickelson still isn't pleased with his game in his 2013-14 PGA Tour season debut. "It's not much better. I don't have the control of swing that I would like. I'm not sure what side I'm going to miss it on," said the 2013 British Open champion.
"And playing this golf course from the rough, which I did today, was extremely difficult. The rough is tough. You're fighting for pars the whole day. It was closer today. The rhythm was a little bit better, but technically I've got a lot of issues. I think that I'll address it more in the off season. This week and next week, it's going to be difficult."
Another player making a big improvement was Bubba Watson, who opened with a 78 but carded a 69 Friday.
For all the scores, visit http://www.pgatour.com/leaderboard.html.
After signing his scorecard, Bradley met with reporters for the following interview session.
MODERATOR: We're here at the CIMB Classic with Keegan Bradley. Keegan, just go ahead and talk about the opening two rounds.
KEEGAN BRADLEY: Yeah, these last two rounds were really fun. Some of the best golf I've played in a long time. So this was a really fun couple of days. Obviously, I'm in a great spot here with two rounds to go.
Q. This is not really a golf course question. But safe to say you're a Boston Red Sox fan, right? How were you able to concentrate on the game today knowing that they were playing around the same time? Did you have updates when you were on the course?
KEEGAN BRADLEY: Yeah, my girlfriend, Jillian, is a big Red Sox fan too and she was giving me updates as best she could. Yeah, it's tough that we don't get to watch the World Series. I know that they replay it later today, but it's more fun knowing what's going on. I heard they lost 4 2.
Q. Were you able to concentrate fully on your game today knowing that was happening?
KEEGAN BRADLEY: Yeah, yeah, I was. But in the back of my mind I'm wondering what's going on. I know my mom at home was flipping back and forth watching. It's fun to know that yesterday the Red Sox won, the Bruins won. I shot 7 under, and I got a bunch of texts from some of the guys that play and they were all excited.
Q. Which holes were the toughest for you today?
KEEGAN BRADLEY: Every hole out there you can make bogey. There is no easy hole. If you drive the ball on the fairway though, you have to have a lot of wedges, you have a lot of par 5s you can reach in two. So I think the most important thing this week is to hit the ball on the fairway, and I've done that for the first couple of rounds.
Q. Do you hit many drivers?
KEEGAN BRADLEY: Yeah, I mean there are some holes that there is a carry of 290 or a lot of guys might have to lay up, where I'm just trying to smash it over those bunkers and get it into play. But there are a bunch of holes where I can hit driver or lay back. But I've chosen these first two days to hit driver and be aggressive.
Q. In Malaysia with this humidity, how are you coping with it?
KEEGAN BRADLEY: It is very hot here, but I live in Florida in the USA, and it's humid in the summertime. This is similar. This is hotter, for sure, but I'm used to it.
KEEGAN BRADLEY: Yeah, it did. Today, like I've been saying, I felt as in control of my golf ball today as maybe I've ever felt. So that is a really good sign on this golf course and going into the weekend. I'm very excited with the way I'm hitting the golf ball. When I'm hitting the ball like this and my putter kind of matches up, normally I'm going to be right in there contending for the tournament, and that is the case here.
Q. Have you done any kind of changes to your game in the last few weeks or so?
KEEGAN BRADLEY: Yeah, I mean, I'm working on some new stuff. But I work very hard in these last couple weeks, a lot of short game, a lot of chipping. So I have been working very hard on my game making a few changes, yes.
Q. Talk about how narrow these fairways are with the bunkers coming in really tightly, but those bunkers don't exist for you. You hit the ball so far, it must be a huge advantage?
KEEGAN BRADLEY: Yeah, it is a big advantage, but I'm also hitting the ball super straight. It's hard to remember a time where I've been more dialed in than these last two days.
Q. We've just noticed on your back nine now it must be fun when a golfer gets to that level where you're pretty much hitting everything the way you want to hit it?
KEEGAN BRADLEY: Yeah, it was. These last two days, today included, were a couple of the best two days I've had since I've been out here. I'm really in control of my ball and putting the ball really well.
Q. What is it you like about this golf course?
KEEGAN BRADLEY: It is challenging. It's very tight. You have to drive the ball straight. But like you said there are a lot of holes I can hit drivers over and par 5s are reachable for me. So it's a really good course for me.
Q. Do you have any game plan for the next two days?
KEEGAN BRADLEY: Yeah, I'm going to keep doing, playing the same, being aggressive. There are a lot of great players in this field that are going to be chasing me. So for me to go out and shoot a good round tomorrow is going to be very important for Sunday.
Q. It was a very busy end of the season and you could have sat back and taken some time off. What made you decide to come to play in this tournament? (Indiscernible).
KEEGAN BRADLEY: I'm always trying to get better and work harder. I realize that last year, although it was a good year, I didn't win. I didn't contend in the majors as much as I wanted to, and there is no time to waste on the PGA Tour when you have players like Tiger and Phil and everybody playing the way they are. So I needed - I have no time to waste, whether it's at the end of the year, the beginning of the year. I've got to work as hard as I possibly can to get better.
The transcript for the above interview is courtesy of ASAP Sports.