PGA Pro Drives Donations for Cancer, Heroin Addiction Research

Keegan Bradley Charity Golf Classic helps give back to golfer's home state of Vt.

The third-annual Keegan Bradley Charity Golf Classic was held Monday at Vermont's Woodstock Inn & Resort.

Bradley, who was the 2011 PGA rookie of the year and a 2012 U.S. Ryder Cup team member, grew up playing at Woodstock Country Club.

"If clubs treated junior golfers like Woodstock Country Club treated me, we'd have so many more great players," Bradley told the teams that raised money to take part in the Charity Golf Classic.

Money raised will benefit medical research at the University of Vermont and Fletcher Allen Health Care. Specifically, it will support studies on pediatric cancers at the Vermont Cancer Center and Vermont Children's Hospital, as well as UVM studies on opiate addiction.

"I was blown away," Bradley told New England Cable News, describing his reaction to hearing about what's been called an epidemic of heroin and illicit painkiller abuse in Vermont. "I think that we can help a little bit, but I think a lot of people really need to come together and help out with this, because this could get really bad quick. It already has."

Gov. Peter Shumlin, D-Vt., prioritized combating opiate addiction in his State of the State Address in January of this year.

"I appreciate Keegan's personal commitment to the fight against both pediatric cancer and opiate addiction, two critical issues that threaten the safety and health of our children and communities," Gov. Shumlin said in a statement praising Bradley’s Charity Golf Classic. "Keegan's success on the PGA tour has already made Vermonters proud. His work over the past three years raising funds and awareness on these critical issues in his native Vermont makes us even more proud of Keegan. I thank Keegan for helping us improve life here at home."

In 2013, the same charity golf event brought in over $120,000 for the Vermont Cancer Center and the Vermont Children's Hospital at Fletcher Allen, organizers said. In 2012, the event raised more than $100,000 for the Vermont Disaster Relief Fund. Bradley's hometown of Woodstock experienced severe damage from flash flooding during Tropical Storm Irene the year before.

The 2014 fundraiser was expected to match or exceed the totals from previous years, Bradley's father, Mark, said. In addition to entry fees from teams, money will come from a silent auction of many items donated by PGA Tour players and sponsors, organizers said.

Bradley's friend and fellow PGA pro Brendan Steele joined in an autograph session and skills clinic before play began on the golf course Monday.

"It's so nice of them to do this for a great charity," said 13-year-old Matt McKenna of Wellesley, Massachusetts. "Of course they're busy and they have a tournament coming up--the playoffs in Boston. And it's great for them to take off time and come hang out with us."

One of Keegan Bradley's biggest fans turned out to support the charity effort: LPGA legend Pat Bradley, Keegan's aunt.

"I'm so proud of him," Pat Bradley beamed. "He has a long career ahead of him."

The World Golf Hall of Famer told NECN she texts advice and encouragement to her nephew, always hoping to see him continue to improve in competitions.

"It's nice Keegan keeps the Bradley name on top of that leaderboard," Bradley said, smiling. "He's done a wonderful job, and he's still growing. He's still maturing."

Sarah Keblin, the communications manager of the Vermont Cancer Center at the University of Vermont and Fletcher Allen Health Care, expressed gratitude for Keegan Bradley’s efforts to support medical research.

“We're very lucky and we're thankful for Keegan,” she told NECN. “We have robust research in both areas that Keegan wanted to support. They reached out to us, and we're grateful that he did.”

Next up for Keegan Bradley and Brendan Steele: TPC Boston in Norton, Massachusetts for this weekend's Deutsche Bank Championship. The players are looking to maintain high rankings as they compete in another in a series of PGA Tour playoff tourneys. Only the top 30 players in the FedEx Cup will make it to the Tour Championship at the end of the season, so Bradley and Steele want finish high enough to survive those cuts in both this weekend's tourney in Massachusetts, and the upcoming BMW Championship in Colorado.

Putnam Investments was the presenting sponsor of the third annual Keegan Bradley Charity Golf Classic, organizers said. Other underwriters included National Car Rental, Sugarbush Resort, Zurich, Audemars Piguet, and Srixon/Cleveland Golf.

For more information on Keegan Bradley, visit his website.

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