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Keegan Bradley: Ryder Cup Success, Emotion Making Him United States Fan Favorite

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Keegan Bradley: Ryder Cup Success, Emotion Making Him United States Fan Favorite
Andrew Redington/Getty Images

Keegan Bradley has captured the hearts of the United States' run here at the 2012 Ryder Cup, and it's only the second day. His partnership with Phil Mickelson has been the highlight of the tournament for the United States, as the duo sits at 2-0 after two sessions.

The 2011 PGA Tour Rookie of the Year, Bradley stormed on the scene by winning the HP Byron Nelson and then PGA Championship in 2011.

Now, he's a rookie again on the Ryder Cup team, but just as in 2011 when he was playing like a veteran on the tour, Bradley certainly isn't playing like a rookie at Medinah Country Club in pursuit of his country's first Ryder Cup in recent memory.

From stirring the crowds in Chicago, to making the big putts to seal the deal and all the way to the post-game interviews about his partner, Mickelson, Bradley is doing everything right so far at this Ryder Cup, and it's making him a fan favorite for the red, white and blue.

His shot on No. 15 to clinch the morning foursome session for the U.S. was a thing of beauty, followed by his caddy's flag wave and complete with an emphatic celebration that should be seen on golf highlights for the foreseeable future.

The intensity and passion Bradley has shown during these first two days is unparalleled. Only Bubba Watson, the fan favorite, may be more popular with his "Happy Gilmore" impressions by allowing the crowd to erupt in to a roar when he is ready to shoot a shot.

And if his partnership with Mickelson continues to thrive through Saturday, we might be seeing the next U.S. power couple at the Ryder Cup for years to come.

Fan reaction has been incredible for Bradley. Twitter has exploded with positive reaction, and you could argue that Bradley's emotion was key to turning the tide in favor of the United States on Friday.

At one point, the Europeans led all four foursomes matches on Friday. It was only when Bradley and Mickelson made an emphatic push around hole No. 8, that the rest of the field could hear the roars coming from their duo, possibly giving them a push to make a move of their own.

It's not as if people aren't noticing, either. Even celebrities are joining in on the Bradley parade. Olympic gold medalist swimmer Michael Phelps, who understands the joys of competing for your country as much as the next guy, loved what Bradley did on his clinching put during the first session.

Even the Chicago Bears are paying attention to the Ryder Cup in their hometown. Kicker Robbie Gould took notice of the golfer's pull on the first tee on Saturday, likely in attendance at Medinah.

Not only is Bradley capturing the minds and the hearts of U.S. faithful, he's even starting to make his mark in golf lore. Comparisons to legends aren't thrown around lightly, and this one by The Golf Channel's David Feherty comes with the highest level of respect you can find.

Any comparison to Stewart Payne at the Ryder Cup is a good one. Payne, the golfer who was tragically taken in a plane crash in 1999, was a part of three U.S. Ryder Cup victories, and always embodied everything that makes this meetings so special for both sides.

No matter the result at this year's Ryder Cup, Bradley has stood out to the future selection committees and his captain this year, Davis Love III, as someone who plays the best golf for his country.

The big drives, emotional outbursts at the first sign of success and new friendship with Phil Mickelson are all great things about Bradley. But maybe the best thing about what he's doing for the United States is bringing so much pride in his country that you can't help but get chills when anything goes right for the U.S.

Ryder Cups are a year-to-year thing; we might not see Bradley on this U.S. squad in 2014. But one thing's for sure: Bradley is reminding the rest of the United States why we compete, and his name will be a household favorite when Sunday rolls around.

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