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Keegan Bradley still has St. John's in his heart

Keegan Bradley of the United States looks over

Keegan Bradley of the United States looks over a green during a practice round prior to the start of the 2015 Masters Tournament at Augusta National Golf Club on April 7, 2015 in Augusta, Ga. Credit: Getty Images / Ezra Shaw

AUGUSTA, Ga. - Keegan Bradley no longer has the St. John's logo on his golf bag and he still feels hurt about the coaching change on the golf team at his alma mater. But he does still have the school in his heart, and he is all in on the return of Chris Mullin.

"I love it. I think it's a great hire," he said after his Masters practice round Tuesday. "He's a legend around that campus and it's great to have him back on our side again."

The key word is "our," signifying that Bradley has not completely cut ties with the school, despite his publicized criticism over the firing of longtime golf coach Frank Darby and the fact that the replacement was not Bradley's former teammate Casey Calmi. St. John's has named Mal Galletta III, pro at Glen Cove Golf Club and a member of one of Long Island's leading golf families, as the new coach.

Inside the Augusta National clubhouse, Bradley said of Darby (who also works with the Metropolitan PGA and sets up courses for its tournaments, including the New York State Open): "I talk with Coach all the time. He helped me out a lot, so I really feel for him. I'm kind of disappointed with the school, but hopefully coach Darby can bounce back from that."

Bradley never has met Mullin, the school's all-time basketball scoring leader who was introduced as new basketball coach last week to great fanfare, but knows all about him. "He's good," the major winner said, adding that he hopes Mullin will return the Red Storm's court glory. "We all hope that."

This week, Bradley hopes to achieve glory of his own. He has won three times on the PGA Tour, including the 2011 PGA Championship. Bradley is coming off a tie for fifth at the Shell Houston Open last week. "Actually, I've been playing really well all year long. I just haven't had the numbers and scores. But I've felt really solid, for the most part," he said.

The logo on his bag is not the biggest change for Bradley in the past year. He got a jump on the impending ban on long putters when he switched last May to a conventional putter. That was a considerable transition in that he had used a belly putter throughout his PGA Tour career, and had become the first to win a major with one. But after a pep talk from his mother last year, and a series of very competitive matches against Michael Jordan -- Mullin's Dream Team teammate -- Bradley made the change and has become increasingly comfortable.

During a strong practice round Tuesday, he commented on the tee shot at No. 9 by playing companion Cameron Tringale. As he watched the ball sail down the middle of the fairway, Bradley said: "Wow! Hammered!" Then Bradley stepped up and hit one 50 yards farther.

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