(Photo: keeganbradley.com)

Ryder Cup debutant Keegan Bradley has made no secret of his respect and admiration for Phil Mickelson. So with speculation swirling that the 2011 PGA champ would tee it up alongside his idol during this week’s competition, Bradley was beside himself with anticipation for the games to begin.

“It would be a dream of mine to partner up with Phil,” the native New Englander told reporters Tuesday. “I’ve told Davis, I’m happy to partner with anybody on this team, but me and Phil have a great relationship, and the great part about Phil is he’s there for advice but will also listen to me and take me seriously. I think that’s what could make us a good partnership.”

While U.S. captain Davis Love III had yet to make his lineup public, Mickelson gave away one of the event’s worst-kept secrets. Chatting about the new blood the four rookies would bring to the eight old-timers on the American side, Bradley’s mentor said he looked forward to spending a good deal of time with last year’s Rookie of the Year.

“I’m going to be playing a lot with Keegan Bradley, it’s no secret here,” Mickelson said Wednesday. “It is fun playing with Keegan because this is his first event, first team event. He is so excited, and that exuberance and energy he brings — you feed off it.”

Mickelson, among other grizzled vets on the U.S. side, has a losing record in Ryder Cup play. In fact, the 40-time PGA Tour victor has lost more cup matches (17) than any American in history and has played on only two winning teams in eight starts. Small wonder, then, that he was looking to the newbies — Bradley, Brandt Snedeker, Jason Dufner, and Webb Simpson — for some inspiration.

“A lot of the guys that have been on the team, a number of team events — myself, [Jim] Furyk, [Steve] Stricker, Tiger [Woods], we’ve only won two Ryder Cups,” Mickelson said. “We need that excitement, that energy that the rookies provide as much as they need a little bit of guidance as to what to expect for all of us to play our best golf.”

Snedeker, fresh from his Tour Championship and FedEx Cup title wins last week, was as eager as anyone to take the field in his first Ryder Cup.

“I feel confidence right now obviously is at an all-time high,” Snedeker told reporters after a Wednesday practice round at Medinah Country Club. “I’m playing the best golf of my career, backed it up with taking a lead into Sunday last week and winning with the lead for the first time.

“I beat some of the best players in the world last weekend, so I feel like my game is exactly where it needs to be,” Snedeker added. “And Friday morning can’t get here quick enough.”


Emily Kay is a regular contributor to New England Golf Monthly. You may follow Kay on Twitter @golfexaminer