All week during the New York State Open at Bethpage Black, there were echoes of the PGA Championship on the same course two months earlier. At the end, though, it was the British Open that played the biggest part in this local major.
Mike Ballo said, right after beating Rob Labritz in a playoff on the 18th hole, it was a call Wednesday from former St. John’s teammate Keegan Bradley that made the difference. Just before Bradley went to sleep in Northern Ireland, preparing for the first round
Thursday at Royal Portrush, the major champion spoke with his buddy on the phone and told him “Fifteen seconds.”
“He meant you’ve got to be great for 15 seconds every time you grab a club, and everything you feel in between is just going to happen,” Ballo said, adding that he concentrated on that advice when he had a 164-yard 9-iron shot from a thick lie on the playoff hole, and two strokes later when he had a four-foot par putt to win. “My heart was beating out of my chest right there.”