Photo: Zimbo.com

Keegan Bradley appears to be putting the pieces of his ‘swing puzzle’ together for the upcoming Masters.
If his statistics at Bay Hill and the Arnold Palmer Invitational continue to improve, Bradley might find himself in the winner’s circle at this year’s Masters.

Distance wise, Keegan is among the top hitters on tour. That said, he has had problems with his driving accuracy which can and has affected his scoring. Through three rounds at Bay Hill Bradley appears to have been doing some serious work on the state of his swing and game. Take a look at a few of his key stats coming into Bay Hill then after three rounds.

                                   Pre Bay Hill Stats                              Through 3 rounds

Driving                               15th                                                                   T-12th
Driving Accuracy            117th                                                                   T-9th
GIR                                     140th                                                                    T-41st
(Greens in Regulation)
Birdies                                176th                                                                     T-9th

It may have seemed I have been a bit negative in my assessments of Bradley the past year or so via the monthly Team New England Updates in New England Golf Monthly magazine. Being a teacher and coach for so many years, I tend to watch a player’s stats. The numbers often allow me to draw a picture of a player’s performance strengths and weaknesses.

I am of the opinion Keegan has tendency to push the envelope too far in the final round of an event in an attempt, understandably, to climb the leaderboard.  This may lead to , (usually unsuccessfully),  his over thinking and second guessing his course plan, game management decisions and shot making. When this happens, the ability to make a fluid and effective swing is overshadowed. Frustration rears its ugly head and the result shows in the final round score much like Bradley’s final round of 77 at Bay Hill.

The challenge is to know when to shut down the conscious mind so the swing motion information can be effectively shared between the brain and the system, (body). The ‘when’ is not when the player is standing over his or her ball about to pull the trigger on a shot. When a player allows consciousnesses into the set up, they generally find themselves sliding down the leaderboard.

Question: What does a player say they were thinking about during a round in which they come from 4 shots down to win an event?

Most will report they weren’t really thinking about anything in particular. They often will say the swing motion was effortless and time seemed to slow down. What the player has defined is generally referred to as a Zone experience.

The real trick for a player is to recognize most shots, (swings), are already stored in the muscle memory bank. The work and preparation put in on the practice range and with their coach has been stored in the brain and is accessible. Just not on a conscious level. This reality does present a very scary proposition for a player in any event, let alone a major. Specifically, let go and allow the mind and body to work together without influence from the conscious mind to produce the desired result, swing to swing.

If he can stop trying so hard to find his ‘magic’ and simply allow his talent to be accessed, the name Keegan Bradley is destine to become synonymous with the Masters and the rest of golf’s majors.