UNIVERSITY PLACE, Wash. - Former PGA champion Keegan Bradley no longer carries the St. John's logo on his golf bag, but the rift that developed between the school and one of its most famous athletic alums is not beyond repair. Sweeping changes in the athletic department, including the hiring of all-time school great Chris Mullin as basketball coach and the decision to part ways with athletic director Chris Monasch have Bradley dreaming of big things for the Red Storm.
"My dream is to be able to go to the Final Four and watch St. John's," Bradley told Newsday Monday at Chambers Bay, where he is preparing for this week's U.S. Open. "That would be the coolest thing. And I want the golf team to do really well.
"I'm always there for St. John's. I want to help the golf team because it wasn't that long ago I was there."
Bradley's school loyalty was tested when Monasch fired longtime golf coach Frank Darby after the fall season and gave only a perfunctory interview to Casey Calmi, a former teammate Bradley recommended. Bradley, a 2008 graduate, said he had no objection to the hiring of Mal Galletta III, who also is a St. John's alum, as golf coach, but was upset by how Monasch handled the situation.
"[Monasch] had his reasons for his decision, and Mal is a really good guy," Bradley said. "Honestly, when I heard [Calmi] didn't get the job, he didn't tell me Mal got it. So I'm happy for him.
"I was almost a little embarrassed that they didn't take me seriously. It got me upset. But I never would dissociate myself with St. John's. I still am very proud of being a graduate there, and I still want to help the golf team. That would never change."
Now that Darby is gone, Bradley said his main contact with the school is through Ed Kull, the acting vice president for institutional advancement, who oversees athletic fundraising. Bradley praised the job Kull has done in terms of working with him to support the golf team.
"I'm so excited about Chris Mullin," Bradley said. "I'm just so proud that he came back to St. John's and is going to coach that team. I think he's going to do a really good job."
There is some question about whether Bradley removed the St. John's logo as a sign of his displeasure with the school or because of his sponsors' interests. "It had a little bit to do with both," Bradley said. "It wasn't all because of sponsors. Definitely not."
Will he consider restoring the logo? "I kind of have to see how things go," Bradley said.
Still, it's clear the St. John's connection remains. Bradley noted that Pat Wilson, who played under Darby, qualified for the Open and said they played practice rounds together Saturday and Sunday.
Now that Bradley has adjusted from the outlawed long putter to a conventional model since the Ryder Cup last fall, he's playing well and believes the treeless, links-style Chambers Bay course favors his power game.
"It's a great course for me," Bradley said. "This is my fourth U.S. Open, and the previous three didn't suit me as well, especially Merion and Olympic. You hit an iron off the tee, and my strength is driver. So this definitely plays into my strength."