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Faxon and Fay head back to broadcast booth for Fox Sports; A good recovery for Keegan Bradley

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AKRON, Ohio - Brad Faxon and David Fay are returning to the broadcast booth for Fox Sports.

Faxon worked briefly for NBC Sports and most recently for Golf Channel. He will serve as the lead studio analyst and a hole announcer for Fox, which has signed a 12-year deal to broadcast the U.S. Open and other USGA events starting next year. Fox also will broadcast the Shark Shootout in December.

Fay was executive director of the USGA until retiring at the end of 2010, and he was in the booth during U.S. Opens for NBC Sports to serve as the rules expert. That's the role he will take with Fox.

"Long known for his smooth putting stroke, Brad's transition to broadcasting has been just as easy," said Mark Loomis, the co-ordinating producer for Fox Sports. "He still has great relationships with, and knowledge of, today's tour players, and that insight will prove invaluable to our telecasts."

Loomis said adding Fay was a "no-brainer" because of his deep knowledge of the USGA and its championships.

Fay was a driving force behind the USGA's recent move to play the U.S. Open on public golf courses more often, starting with Bethpage Black in 2002. The U.S. Open next year is at Chambers Bay outside Seattle, another public golf course.

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BRADLEY'S START: Keegan Bradley is No. 16 in the Ryder Cup standings and needs a strong push over the next two weeks to earn a spot on the U.S. team again. Three holes into the Bridgestone Invitational, he already was 3-over par. He had to make a pair of 4-foot par putts to keep it from getting worse.

So to finish with a 68 was no small relief.

"I really grinded it out," he said. "I'm proud of my round."

Bradley can only hope history repeats itself. Two years ago, he won the Bridgestone Invitational to secure a spot on his first Ryder Cup team. Bradley had such a whirlwind week at Medinah that he still hasn't unpacked his bag. Bradley was tempted to unpack it before leaving for Ohio, just for inspiration, but doesn't want to open it until he gets on the next Ryder Cup team.

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AILING MICKELSON: Phil Mickelson didn't arrive at Firestone until Wednesday night as he tried to recover from strep throat. He says that prevented him from doing much practice at home except for chipping and putting.

"I've got to be a little bit careful on some of the high-fives and hand-slapping and stuff because it looks like that's kind of been the cause of me getting sick a little bit," Mickelson said. "I've got to cut some of that out."

Mickelson wasn't about to miss Firestone, which he won before it became a World Golf Championship. He prefers to play the week before a major.

And while he opened with an ordinary round of 71, he said his recent history with illness should not be overlooked. Mickelson had a bad case of food poisoning in 2001 when he won at Torrey Pines in a playoff. And he had to go to the hospital because of dehydration from a stomach virus on the eve of the final round at Doral in 2009. He wound up winning for his first World Golf Championship.

"It just kind of slows your mind down," Mickelson said. "You don't rush things. Sometimes you play your best golf like that."

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DIVOTS: Rory McIlroy heard a cellphone go off on the 17th tee, but he didn't seem too bothered. "We play so much in Korea and China, you get used to it," he said. ... There are 22 countries represented at this World Golf Championship, the most in Bridgestone Invitational history. ... Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano hit three shots into the water on the third hole and made a 9. He later called it his "Tin Cup" moment. He opened with a 79. ... Martin Kaymer, who went wire-to-wire in winning The Players Championship and the U.S. Open, did not record a single birdie while playing with Tiger Woods. Kaymer shot 77.

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