Players started to pile into trucks and cars after last Monday afternoon’s golf at the Glen Oaks Club and headed for a 30-minute drive down the Corss Island Parkway to the New Park Pizza in Jamaica.
One of those vehicles heading for an excursion to the “best pizza in the world” was the 25-year old PGA Champion Keegan Bradley who has just hoisted the Wanamaker Trophy over his head a few days ago.
“I’ve always said that (Bradley) should have a pizza parlor representing him,” the 53-year-old St. John’s head golf coach Frank Darby said yesterday from his home. “When I would call to find out where they were, I’d always get, ‘Well, we’re in Brooklyn at Grimaldi’s.’ They’d go into the city, go to the Bronx, wherever. And he was always at the center of it.”
The previous few days were spent competing or tinkering by the entire 123-man field at Plainfield Country Club to make sure they would become successful at the Barclays but an, entirely different route was taken by Bradley who phone his former college coach and arranged a St. John’s golf alumni-fest with the newest major golf champion, some of his teammates and the Red Storm team.
Bradley, who came Saturday night, spent the day and night bunking with the team in a golf house off the campus where the St. John’s team of six lived.
“They are looking at me as maybe the guy that they look up to on tour, which is a huge honour for me,” Bradley said yesterday afternoon. “Especially since these kids are really great players. It’s an honour to hang out with these guys and be able to talk to them.
They give me inspiration. I was only there three years ago.”
Darby already organized a little Q&A session with his team and the graduates of 2008, prior to Monday’s impromptu outing. After crashing their golf “Animal House” for the night, Bradley gave insight to the players including Jeremy Quinn of Lafayette, Pat Wilson of Andover and Ryan McCormick of Middletown.
“It kind of just speaks to how tight we are as a team,” McCormick said last night. “It’s not really a big deal to us or to him that he would stay with us. It’s just kind of like a family atmosphere.”
They were so comfortable with each other Bradley even joked about kicking one of the younger players from his room so he could have a place to sleep.
“He really respects people,” Darby said. “It’s really so much different than anything we’ve seen with Tiger Woods for the last 10 years. He’s come along at the right time. He doesn’t curse on the course, he’s not slamming clubs. It’s a breath of fresh air, it really is.”
But with a major championship, Bradley has to face high expectations.
“I woke up on Tuesday morning and I looked at my phone and I had a text from Tom Brady — my absolute childhood hero,” Bradley said. “I almost hesitate to even say it means so much to me. … To get a text from him, reaching out to me, was a highlight of my career. I swear to God, something happens every day that I can’t believe that’s going on. It’s just pretty remarkable.”
“That’s it right there, he’s always been one of the guys,” Darby said. “He kind of grew up with a different upbringing and I think he just needed a home and he found one.”