No matter how far Keegan Bradley has had to go to become one of the world's top players this week in the Barclays on Bethpage Black, he sure did not have to stop and ask for directions. He knows his way around here.
The former St. John's star had to do an appearance for his alma mater Wednesday on the grounds of the state park, where he and his college teammates used to practice in private on days when the Black was closed to the public.
That was after having begun the week with an outing at Wheatley Hills Golf Club in East Williston. "Which is just right down the street," he said from the podium in the Barclays media center. "It was the course that kind of took me in."
And he isn't staying at a hotel like some stranger. "I'm staying with my buddy Doc," he said of Dr. Glenn Muraca, "who was the guy that basically got me out here, when I was at my lowest in terms of finances. He stepped in and helped me out.
"It's fun to come back and be an accomplished tour player, considering last time I played Bethpage Black was in the  New York State Open," Bradley said. "It's just fun to see how far I've come since then."
Bradley isn't from here (he grew up in New England), but he might as well be. Local pros such as Jimmy Hazen of Miller Place, who was at the Black on Wednesday, pointed out that Bradley hasn't changed a bit and still treats his old friends just the way he always did -- back when he tied for ninth at the State Open at 12 over par, seven behind champion Rob Labritz.
The 2011 PGA champion has his feet on the ground, metropolitan-area ground. "I was looking at the leader board at the Met Open yesterday, which is going on, and the top 10 has about six St. John's players in it," Bradley said. "It's remarkable."
Notes & quotes:Phil Mickelson's pro-am group included former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush . . . Nets guard Deron Williams, playing with Bubba Watson, showed skill, such as the 35-foot putt he made on the 12th hole. Williams pumped his fist as fans shouted, "That's a three-pointer." Earlier, someone yelled, "You should come to the Knicks, Deron," pronouncing his name De-RONN. One of Williams' playing partners asked the basketball player, "Should I tell them it's too late?" Then Williams' fellow golfer turned to the fan and said, "It's pronounced, 'DARR-in.' That's why you didn't get him."