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Bradley celebrates strong U.S. Open finish with Cup in mind

Golf: U.S. Open-Third Round

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Keegan Bradley hits a fairway shot on the 3rd hole during the third round of the 2014 U.S. Open golf …

By Mark Lamport-Stokes

PINEHURST North Carolina (Reuters) - American Keegan Bradley ended the U.S. Open on an emotional high on Sunday after putting himself under self-imposed pressure to shine with this year's Ryder Cup uppermost in his mind.

Bradley, an inspirational figure for his team with his livewire approach as a Ryder Cup rookie in 2012 on the outskirts of Chicago, signed off with a three-under-par 67 in the final round at Pinehurst Resort to secure a top-10 finish.

"I'm so pumped and I was nervous coming down to the end, because there are so many Ryder Cup points on the line here," the 28-year-old told reporters after posting a one-over total of 281 in the season's second major.

"I was certainly thinking about it, and it's a battle for me because of how bad I want to be on that team. I know that one shot here or there is double points, so it was nerve wracking.

"I'm not too worried about the money or the place. It's Ryder Cup points at this point for me."

Bradley is by no means a lock for automatic selection on the U.S. team, who will try to regain the Ryder Cup from holders Europe at Gleneagles in Scotland from Sept. 26-28.

Going into this week's U.S. Open at Pinehurst, Bradley was 21st in the points standings with only the top nine booking their places in captain Tom Watson's 12-man lineup. Watson will then add three wildcard picks.

"You know that a major is double (Ryder Cup) points," said Bradley. "I know that I've got to make a move, I know that captain (Tom) Watson is watching. (Assistant captain) Andy North is watching every shot; he's here.

"This is big for me, because I want to be on that team first and foremost. I know that the start of that was here today on Sunday."

Overall, Bradley was delighted with his form at Pinehurst where he opened with successive 69s before slipping down the leaderboard with a 76 in brutal scoring conditions in the third round.

"I would have taken one over (after 72 holes) to start the week," said Bradley, who clinched his first major title in his rookie season on the PGA Tour, at the 2011 PGA Championship.

"If you told me one-over on Wednesday afternoon, I would have said you would win by three.

"So it's by far the best U.S. Open I've played, three rounds in the 60s, three rounds under par. I don't think I've broken 15-over par at one of these yet, so this is big for me, for sure."

(Reporting by Mark Lamport-Stokes; Editing by Julian Linden)

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