Key US trio give verdict on Keegan Bradley Ryder Cup decision and swat aside 'left-field' label

New US Ryder Cup captain Keegan Bradley speaks during a pres conference in New York on Tuesday. Picture: Jennifer Pottheiser/PGA of America.New US Ryder Cup captain Keegan Bradley speaks during a pres conference in New York on Tuesday. Picture: Jennifer Pottheiser/PGA of America.
New US Ryder Cup captain Keegan Bradley speaks during a pres conference in New York on Tuesday. Picture: Jennifer Pottheiser/PGA of America.
American players teeing up in Genesis Scottish Open react to PGA of America decision

He wasn’t even there himself yet Keegan Bradley was the talk of the steamie on the driving range, putting green, chipping green and even on walks from one to the other at The Renaissance Club ahead of the $9 million Genesis Scottish Open starting at the East Lothian venue on Thursday.

It was no real surprise, of course, because Bradley has suddenly become the centre of attention in golf after being appointed as the new US Ryder Cup captain, having been handed the reins for next year’s match at Bethpage Black after Tiger Woods turned the job down.

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It now remains to be seen if Woods will fill the post one day, though it’s long been speculated that he was always in line for the 2027 captaincy at Adare Manor in Ireland due to his lengthy connection with its wealthy owner JP McManus, but his decision to say ‘no’ to this one due to being heavily involved in talks about the game’s future as one the players on the PGA Tour’s advisory board has opened the door for a surprise choice in Bradley.

At 38, he’ll be the youngest US Ryder Cup captain since a 34-year-old Arnold Palmer was a playing captain in 1963 while his two appearances in the biennial event - at Medinah in 2012 then Gleneagles two years later - were both on losing teams, but the reaction to his appointment from some of the big-name Americans playing in this week’s Rolex Series event on the East Lothian coast had a distinctly positive tone.

“I think it’s awesome,” declared Jordan Spieth, who made his debut in that match at Gleneagles and has played in every encounter since then. “No, I don’t think so,” he added in reply to it being suggested by some people that the appointment by the PGA of America had come out of left field, so to speak, with Stewart Cink, for example, having been tipped as a contender if it wasn’t going to be Woods.

“You know, typically captains are people who have played on a Ryder Cup team and share a lot of passion for Team USA. A lot of times it ties to the PGA and Keegan has won a PGA Championship (in 2011) and it’s kind of got the torch going a bit younger. I don’t know who he’ll want as his assistants, but I imagine just knowing Keegan he’ll want to have a really light team room but one where everyone is really dedicated to the goal at hand.”

Bradley is one of those heart-on-the-sleeves golfers and Spieth said he sensed his compatriot’s passion straight away when they were team-mates in Perthshire just under a decade ago. “Sure and not just in the Ryder Cup, watch the way he plays,” added the three-time major winner. “Watch Hartford (where Bradley won the Travelers Championship) last year, his first win forever (ending a four-year drought on the PGA Tour in 2022) in Japan. Passion is that guy’s middle name when he golfs.

“It’s going to be really cool. In the Ryder Cup, you don’t need any extra inspiration, but he’s somebody that knows a lot of guys and he’s been playing with a lot of the guys. That’s not a reason for picking him, but it could certainly be advantageous and just kind of being able to bounce ideas off him and feel a little more comfortable. His assistants could be guys who are his contemporaries and there’s a long list of routes he can go and hopefully Tiger wants to be involved, too.”

Bradley, who will lock horns with Luke Donald following his reappointment on the back of Europe’s win in Rome last year, will work closely with John Wood, a former PGA Tour caddie, in his new role as US Ryder Cup team manager.

“Everybody was on the table, I think really it’s a Keegan thing,” said Spieth of the options that were available to the Americans for the next match. “Tiger will do it when Tiger can do it. There were names from guys that are 60 on the list and names of guys in their mid-30s, so everything was at hand and it was case of looking at what was going to be the best option for this one and one that the guys can really get behind and maybe he’ll he playing on it, too, and that can be the future of it. He’s obviously been playing extremely good golf. He is super connected to the guys but also has overall experience.”

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Bradley’s appointment was also welcomed by Justin Thomas, who was deemed by many to be lucky to be handed a captain’s pick by Zach Johnson for the match in Italy. “Yeah, I’m excited,” he said after stepping on to the driving range at The Renaissance Club. “I think a lot of Keegan. I mean, I don’t think anybody has to question his passion or love for team events and just intensity in general. Yeah, I think it’s a great opportunity and I think his knowledge of the current game and the guys is a potential good change of pace or good addition.”

At the same time, the two-time PGA champion is hoping that his close friend, Woods, does indeed add a Ryder Cup captaincy to his CV one day. “I think everybody would love to see Tiger be a captain and to play for Tiger,” said Thomas. “I mean, it’s flawed to think he’s got more on his plate now that he is playing less than he did when was playing a lot. But I think he has a lot of things he is working on to help the future of the PGA Tour and the game of golf. It is hard to believe that something could be way more important than the Ryder Cup but, in reality, the overall picture in the game of game and what it looks like in the future is more important than that for the time being, I’d say.”

Bradley’s appointment dominated Xander Schauffle’s media centre chat as well. “It’s surprising,” admitted the PGA champion. “You typically expect someone that’s a little bit older to get selected as a captain. So Keegan expressed his love for the Ryder Cup publicly, which we all saw (in the Netflix ‘Full Swing’ series). I haven't talked to him or seen him yet, but I'm sure he's over the moon and is going to do a great job.”



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