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Why Keegan Bradley is perfect fit as US Ryder Cup captain after shocking decision



Why Keegan Bradley is perfect fit as US Ryder Cup captain after shocking decision

He hit every note as perfectly as he might have flushed every shot while shooting a tournament-winning final round 65.

Keegan Bradley has been the captain of the 2025 U.S. Ryder Cup team for only a minute.

He hasn’t stood before the yet-to-be-determined 12-player team he’ll captain against the Europeans Sept. 26-28 of next year at Bethpage Black. He hasn’t picked any wild-card players to his team or told any bubble players they won’t be making the trip. He hasn’t yet named any vice captains for the team.

And yet, during his 40-minute press conference on Tuesday at NASDAQ that served as the official announcement of his appointment as the 31st U.S. Ryder Cup captain, Bradley acted, looked and sounded the part of what I believe will be an outstanding leader.

Keegan Bradley is introduced as the US Ryder Cup captain on Tuesday in New York. AP

He was passionate. He was confident. He was humble. He was honest. He was real.

Bradley revealed that, when he got the phone call from the PGA of America a couple weeks ago asking him if he wanted the post, it was the first time the possibility had been discussed and it shocked him.

“I don’t think I’ll ever be more surprised about anything in my entire life,’’ Bradley said. “I had no idea, and it took a while for it to sink in. I wasn’t fully comfortable with some of the people that were passed over [in favor of him]. I have a lot of respect for the people that came before me and people that deserve to be in this position.

“So, that was a heavy thought and moment.’’

Bradley has played on two Ryder Cup teams, won eight PGA Tour events, including one major, and is ranked No. 11 in the world at the moment. And he was completely honest about his desire to be a player-captain.

“I want to play on the team,’’ he said. “I feel as though I’m still in the prime of my career and can make this team. I will either make the team on points [or not play]. I’m not going to pick myself.’’

Bradley said one of the first people he spoke to upon being named captain was Tiger Woods, who turned down the 2025 post, likely to wait for 2027 in Ireland.

Keegan Bradley (r.) speaks alongside PGA of America president John Lindert (l.) AP

He didn’t rule out having Woods as a vice captain, should Woods choose to do so.

“I’ve spoken to Tiger a bunch and I spoke to him this morning on the phone,’’ Bradley said. “Tiger has always been really helpful to me. I have told him he can be as involved as he wants to be. We haven’t talked about vice captains [yet].’’

Bradley spoke with reverence about all of the captains before him.

“I plan to call every U.S. captain and kind of pick their brain on what they thought they did right and what they thought they did wrong, whether they won or lost,’’ he said.

That includes Zach Johnson, who was the 2023 captain who left him off the team despite the fact that he was 11th in the points standings.

“I was crushed,’’ Bradley said of the snub. “It took us a while to get over that. But I’m American. I root for the Americans to win the Ryder Cup whether I’m playing or whether or not. I know all the guys on the team and I bleed red, white and blue … and I was pulling for them.

“It was a weird feeling knowing that I could have been there and maybe helping the team, but I know what a tough decision Zach had. Now, sitting here as the captain, I kind of have a different perspective of what he [was] going through. I’ve only been the captain for two weeks and I find myself staring at the ceiling thinking about every single situation. So, I have a different perspective now and I have nothing but admiration and respect for Zach Johnson.’’

Keegan Bradley and his wife Jillian Stacey hold a Ryder Cup
trophy as they pose in front of the NASDAQ building on Tuesday. AP

When asked how he plans to handle having LIV Golf players on his team, Bradley was honest and assertive and said exactly the right thing.

“I’m gonna have the 12 best players on the team, I don’t care where they play,’’ he said.

Bradley’s intense passion for the Ryder Cup has never been more evident than the fact that he still has the unopened suitcase from the 2012 Ryder Cup at his house. It was his first Ryder Cup and he vowed he wouldn’t open it until he was back on a team that won one.

“The 2012 Ryder Cup is such a strange feeling for me because every day but the last day were my fondest memories on a golf course,’’ he said. “And Sunday was the worst day on the golf course and one of the worst days of my life. I got home and I kept staring at the suitcase and I couldn’t open it because I was so sad and [seeing] the stuff inside the suitcase was just going to make it worse.

“The memories inside there were so extreme on both sides that I decided I’m not going to open this up until I’ve won a Ryder Cup. It’s still in my house and hopefully someday I’ll get to open it.’’

Bradley, of course hopes that “someday’’ is September 28, 2025.

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