Keegan Bradley: Will Ryder Cup Performance Make Bradley Golf's Next Rising Star?

Ryan DavenportContributor ISeptember 28, 2012

MEDINAH, IL - SEPTEMBER 28:  Keegan Bradley celebrates on the 15th green after he made birdie to defeat the team of Donald/Garcia 4&3 during the Morning Foursome Matches for The 39th Ryder Cup at Medinah Country Club on September 28, 2012 in Medinah, Illinois.  (Photo by Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images)
Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images

We all knew that Keegan Bradley was among the best young golfers on the Tour, but good enough to outduel a star-studded pairing like Sergio Garcia and Luke Donald with national glory on the line? 

Today, the answer to that question is a resounding yes.

Paired with a living legend in Phil Mickelson, Bradley displayed an impressive amount of composure and poise, as he helped the U.S. to an early lead at the Ryder Cup.

Now, after sending Garcia and Donald to their first-ever defeat in foursome play, Bradley suddenly appears to be on the cusp of stardom at a time when the sport is in need of some fresh faces to compete with aging greats like Mickelson and Tiger Woods.

Could Keegan Bradley be the next great American-born golfer?

If his first year on the Tour was any indication, then he just might be.

The 26-year-old Vermont native became the first American to win a major since Mickelson after capturing the 2011 PGA Championship in dramatic fashion, and he collected PGA Tour Rookie of the Year honors for his efforts.

Despite his early successes, Bradley's performance during foursome play on Friday was a pleasant surprise for the American squad, especially considering that outside of his win at the PGA Championship, he's never finished better than 27th at a major.

However, the youngster showed his mettle Friday morning, as he consistently made difficult shots in clutch situations to preserve the victory.

None were better than his 25-footer on the 15th, which sealed the win for Bradley and his mentor-turned-partner in Mickelson.

What was almost as encouraging as his foursome-clinching putt was Bradley's reaction afterwards, as the Ryder Cup rookie's fist pumps and celebration are sure to earn him admiration from all corners of the country.

After his performance at the 2011 PGA Championship and stunning Ryder Cup debut, Bradley just became a must-watch player on the Tour.

If he continues to demonstrate a flair for the dramatic, he just may become the sport's next big thing.