DUBLIN, Ohio — The guy with Jon Curran’s staff bag slung over his shoulder wasn’t your ordinary caddie. He looked like one, completed with a T-shirt, shorts, sneakers and a day-old growth on his face. But this was Keegan Bradley, former PGA Championship winner and Ryder Cupper.
Bradley was supposed to fly out of town two hours earlier but had to stay for the Memorial Tournament to see the finish. His pal from high school, Jon Curran, had a chance to win so Bradley, who’d finished earlier after shooting 69, hung around for Curran’s playoff with William McGirt.
The reason Bradley lugged Curran’s bag into the media interview area was because Curran’s real caddie had to rush to the airport to catch a flight. So now, Bradley was standing around, bag on his shoulder in the hallway, waiting for Curran to finish up one last TV interview.
“Geez, that’s the most nervous I’ve ever been,” Bradley said of being reduced to mere spectator. “My hands were shaking. I had to walk up some stairs and I literally fell because I was so nervous.”
The playoff lasted two holes, by the way, and the competitors played the 18th twice. Bradley waited by the green rather than try to fight through the huge galleries and get back to the tee box. But it was hell waiting.
Curran hit two nice shots on the first playoff hole and had a 22-foot downhill slider for the win after McGirt played a bunker shot to two-and-a-half feet. Curran’s putt burned the right edge, then McGirt stroked in his par-saver.
Back to the 18th tee for a second time, McGirt got it in the fairway, Curran found the fairway bunker. Both players launched second shots that flew over the back left part of the green. Curran’s ended up by a cart path, so he got a drop, but his super-flopper carried long and trickled out after it landed, leaving him 40 feet for par. McGirt had a better lie and pitched it six feet past the pin. After Curran two-putted for bogey, McGirt rolled in his par putt for the win.
“Jon has always been a winner at every level,” Bradley said. “This is just another step for him.”
Bradley said Curran is a David Toms or Jim Furyk type of player, someone who keeps the ball in play and doesn’t give away shots around the greens. Bradley and Curran had been sharing quarters in Florida but not anymore, Bradley said, because they’ve both gotten engaged. Curran will be married in October, Bradley in December.
“I’ll see how it goes for Jon first,” Bradley joked.
Curran, 29, fought his way to the PGA Tour through the ranks of mini-tours and the Web.com Tour. He played college golf at Vanderbilt and at 5 feet, 9 inches (and bearing more than a passing likeness to former Masters champ Mike Weir), is the opposite of a basher. He ranks 197th in driving distance on Tour. Around the greens, he’s strong. He ranks sixth in sand saves and 30th in total putting. The man can play, as Bradley said. They were high school teammates at Hopkinton and won a Massachusetts prep golf title. This is Curran’s second full year on the PGA Tour and he had already racked up $2.8 million before his runner-up Memorial finish.
So he looks like he’s here to stay. Especially since he played this well at Muirfield Village.
“This is a real-deal golf course,” Bradley said. “It’s not a major but it’s just about as good as it gets.”
The real deal? He might have been describing Curran. If you’ve got a major champion carrying your clubs to the parking lot, you’re doing all right.