NORTON, Mass. -- There is always a little extra pressure for native New Englander Keegan Bradley when he comes home to play at the Deutsche Bank Championship.
But with his immediate golfing future on the line this weekend at TPC Boston, that might kick the intensity up a notch or two. The top 70 golfers in the FedEx standings advance to next week's playoff event -- the BMW Championship in Lake Forest, Ill. -- and Bradley came into the weekend ranked 71st.
Yet life is good for the Vermont native and Hopkinton High product. He got engaged earlier this week and, like many local football fans, he rejoiced on Thursday when news broke that Patriots quarterback Tom Brady had his four-game Deflategate suspension vacated by a New York judge.
"It's been quite the week," beamed Bradley after his first round yesterday. "It's been one of the best weeks of my life. Everything has been so fun. The golf has actually come second this week."
His golfing, decent enough, did nothing to dampen his spirits. Bradley finished even on the par-71 course. The highlight of his day was an eagle on the 18th hole. Starting on the back nine, he bogeyed 14 and 17 but made up for it with a brilliant approach shot on 18 that left him with a putt that was little more than a tap-in.
"I hit a really hard 4-iron against the wind and it hit just left and rolled down to about 3 feet," said Bradley. "It was awesome. I really needed it at the time."
Considering there was a nagging breeze that frustrated a lot of players, an even-par score was OK with Bradley.
"Once again, I could have made some more putts, but the birdie on 8 and the eagle on 18 really are keeping me in the tournament as of right now," said Bradley. "The course is playing really tricky, so I'm happy with the round."
The Norton tourney is always a highlight of Bradley's schedule as he gets to play in front of his loved ones, but it can be a double-edged sword for him. He admitted that "sometimes I want it too much, to give these guys something to cheer about.
"There's so much excitement and there's a lot of pressure that I put on myself," said Bradley. "It's one I look forward to, then on Monday I'm glad it's behind me. It's a tough week for me, just because I want to show New England and Boston a good time with some low scores."
Bradley, in the first threesome to tee off, heard the fans early and often yesterday.
"They got up early and followed me," said Bradley, who goes into today's second round 6 shots back of leader Brendon de Jonge. "And I can definitely hear the cheers when I make birdies and putts. It feels so good, because New England is such a big part of me -- Boston and this area here -- so to come back here and feel the love from the people really does mean a lot."
But Bradley said his people have learned to give him his space at the appropriate times.
"I have tons of family and friends here," said Bradley. "I know they're here when I'm on the course, but when I'm off the course, I barely know they're here. They leave me alone and let me do my thing. This is my fifth year doing this and it's become easier and easier, thanks to them."
Now, as he looks to continue in the FedEx Cup playoff, he's looking toward his favorite football team for inspiration.
"That's my goal," said Bradley. "When the Patriots are down by 20 points or so, I always think they're going to come back and win. So I just try to imagine my attitude toward the Patriots or whatever team when I'm out there."
This article was written by Steve Conroy from Boston Herald and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.