24 Feb 2021 | Professional golf |

Kennedy still coming of age

by PGA of Australia

Brad Kennedy was in the mix for a long time at the ZOZO Championship last year.
Brad Kennedy was in the mix for a long time at the ZOZO Championship last year.

A 7-iron to 1m on the 72nd hole to win your first event in three months was a pressure test Brad Kennedy passed with aplomb; now he’s ready to take it up a notch.

The current PGA Tour of Australasia Order of Merit leader is making his second appearance in a World Golf Championships event at this week’s WGC-Workday Championship at The Concession, almost a decade since he teed it up at the WGC-HSBC Champions event in China in 2012.

The Queenslander is one of nine Aussies in the field at The Concession Golf Club in Bradenton, Florida, including European Tour regulars Wade Ormsby, Jason Scrivener, Lucas Herbert and Min Woo Lee, Lee making his WGC debut.

Kennedy made his first PGA TOUR start on US soil last October at the ZOZO Championship by virtue of his Japan Golf Tour world ranking and returns with another win under his belt and a desire at 46 years of age to continue to push the boundaries of what he can achieve.

Winner of the New Zealand Open a year ago, Kennedy was the inaugural victor of The Players Series-Victoria at Rosebud Country Club in January and says that how he handles the pressure of playing in an elite field on a “brutal” golf course remains a developing aspect of his game.

“I’ve definitely changed as a player over the last 10 years,” said Kennedy, whose eight career victories have all come since December 2011.

“It’s just another opportunity now for me to see what I can do under this type of pressure. I’ve been working with Dave Alred and with my putting aid, Project One Putt, just been really trying to put myself under pressure while I’m practicing and just see how far I can push that.

“There’s no better place than trying to test it over here.

“I’m able to understand pressure a lot better so when I’m getting in those situations I’m able to still play at my best without any of those outside influences.

“Just really trying to see how far I can push myself before I finish up.”

Given he had to endure two weeks of quarantine following his appearance at the ZOZO Championship, Kennedy was unsure whether he would make the trip until only recently, the tournament’s move from Mexico to Florida making an arduous trip slightly more tolerable.

“It was a long trip,” he conceded.

“I went from Brisbane to San Francisco to Chicago to Tampa. It’s 34 hours and a 15-hour time zone change. Even this morning it’s been hard.

“Hopefully by Thursday I’ll be ready, but I came over here Friday knowing that I would have to get used to it for a few days.”

Tied for 41st at the ZOZO Championship, Kennedy’s performance expectations this week are centred more on execution than position on the leaderboard.

It’s a mindset shift that has seen him rise to a career-high of 101st in the world and instilled a belief that his best is absolutely world class.

“I just want to walk away knowing that I played as best as I could this week, whatever that position is,” said Kennedy.

“It’s a brutal golf course out there, especially hitting into the greens. I just want to try and test myself and see how far I can go in these conditions and whatever that result is, then I’ll take it.

“I want to be able to prove some things to myself in the hope that I can come back again during the year. Walk away with a lot of positives but things to work on for events in the future.”

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