Saturday, July 13, 2024

Ryder Cup 2025: Keegan Bradley says Team USA captaincy came ‘out of the blue’ after Tiger Woods rejected role

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Keegan Bradley has revealed he was offered the Ryder Cup captaincy “out of the blue” and without being interviewed after Tiger Woods turned down the role for Bethpage Black.

Bradley, 38, has been confirmed as Zach Johnson’s successor for the 2025 contest, where Team USA will be looking to regain the trophy after Luke Donald guided Europe to a 16.5-11.5 win in Rome last September.

The 2011 PGA Championship winner has not been involved in a Ryder Cup since 2014, his second appearance for Team USA, with Bradley narrowly missing out on a captain’s pick for the 2023 defeat but having no previous experience as part of an American backroom team.

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Keegan Bradley discusses how he looks to approach his new captaincy role for the US at the 2025 Ryder Cup and his determination to win back the Ryder Cup for USA

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Watch Bradley’s best shots from when he represented Team USA in 2012 and 2014!

Woods had been the overwhelming favourite to be Team USA’s next captain, having made eight appearances as a player, while Bradley admitted he had no idea he was even in consideration for the role until being called by departing PGA of America SEO Seth Waugh and Johnson last month.

“I answered it [the call] and he had some pretty incredible news that I had no clue was coming,” Bradley told the media. “Zach Johnson is the one who told me that I was going to be the Ryder Cup captain in 2025.

“I think it just speaks to what kind of man and person Zach Johnson is. I have just such respect for him. He was one of my idols that I looked up to when I first came out on the PGA Tour and I feel terrible for what he’s had to go through, and I’m so honoured that he was the one who called me.”

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Xander Schauffele says he is happy for Bradley and insists Tiger Woods has too much on his plate to have considered taking the role

Why did Tiger not become captain?

A press conference confirming Bradley’s appointment included a statement from Woods, read out by PGA of America senior director Julius Mason, where the 15-time major champion explained his reasons and insisted he was still hopeful of captaining Team USA in the future.

“With my new responsibilities to the [PGA] Tour and time commitments involved, I felt like I would not be able to commit the time to Team USA and the players required as a captain,” the statement read.

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Woods is part of a sub-committee that is engaged in direct negotiations with the Saudi Public Investment Fund to unify the men’s game

“That does not mean I wouldn’t want to captain a team in the future. If and when I feel it is the right time, I will put my hat in the ring for this committee to decide.”

Bradley said he spoke with Woods before accepting the position, which will make him the youngest USA Ryder Cup captain since Arnold Palmer in the 1960s, while the six-time PGA Tour winner is open to having the former world No 1 as part of his backroom team.

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Could Woods be part of Bradley’s backroom team in New York?

“I’ve spoken to Tiger a bunch,” Bradley added. “He’s been very helpful. Tiger has always been really helpful to me. He’s a great voice to hear and he’s been reaching out to me helping me, which has been amazing.

“As it comes to Tiger, I have told him he can be as involved as he wants to be. We haven’t talked about vice-captains, I haven’t talked to vice-captains with really anybody. We, as players, we all look up to Tiger and his opinion means a lot to us.

“Being in team rooms with Tiger, the public doesn’t realise how important this is to him. It’s everything. He lives and breathes this event.

“I think it shows you how much he cares by turning this position down, because he didn’t feel like he could put in what he needed to do with all of his responsibilities with what’s going on with the PGA Tour.”

Was Bradley’s Ryder Cup selection a surprise?

Stewart Cink and Fred Couples, vice-captains under Johnson in 2023, had been viewed as more likely candidates, with former Ryder Cup-winning captain Paul McGinley shocked by Bradley’s shock appointment.

FILE - Keegan Bradley lines up a putt on the first hole during the third round of the PGA Championship golf tournament at the Valhalla Golf Club, Saturday, May 18, 2024, in Louisville, Ky. Bradley was selected as U.S. Ryder Cup captain for 2025, The PGA of America announced Monday, July 8, 2024. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki, File)
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Bradley is a six-time winner on the PGA Tour, most recently at the 2023 Travelers Championship

“I think it’s a surprise to everybody in the golf game,” said McGinley, who will serve as strategic adviser to Donald for next year’s contest. “If you’d have given me five or six picks on who the next captain would be, if it wasn’t going to be Tiger, I don’t think Keegan would have been in those.

“It’s a big leap of faith from them [PGA of America]. He’s 38 years of age, so obviously very young to be a Ryder Cup captain – normally people are 10 years older when they choose them, so we’ll have to wait and see.

“He’s a very passionate guy, he’s a nice guy and he’s a popular guy. He’s got a huge heart. He’s certainly going to bring a lot of vibrancy and energy to the captaincy. That’s probably going to fuel the crowd, so I can see the logic behind it.

“The surprise is the fact that he’s so young and inexperienced to jump from being a player and potentially on the team last year, straight into being the captain.”

Sky Sports will continue to be the home of the Ryder Cup, with all three days of the 2025 exclusively live from September 26-28 next year. Stream the PGA Tour, DP World Tour, LPGA Tour and more with NOW.

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