2025 Ryder Cup: Keegan Bradley didn't know he was a candidate for United States captaincy before being called

keegan bradley us ryder cup ss

Keegan Bradley had been there before. Last year, it was Zach Johnson, captain for the United States in the 2023 Ryder Cup, on the phone letting Bradley know he did not make the team and would not play in Rome. This year, it was the PGA of America informing Bradley he would take Johnson’s spot leading the U.S. at Bethpage Black in 2025.

The other difference between the calls? Bradley had no idea this one was coming.

“I didn’t have one conversation with anybody about this until I was told I was the captain,” Bradley explained Tuesday while sharing his utter shock during an introductory press conference. “I got a call from Seth [Waugh, PGA of America CEO] and John [Lindert, PGA of America president] and Zach, and I had trouble talking.

“When they called me, I felt funny after the call because I don’t think I reacted in the way they were expecting me to. I was in complete shock. It was heavy. I was a little bit uncomfortable with some of the guys — my idols — that were looked over for this position. I needed a second to figure that out. I don’t think I’ll ever have a bigger surprise in my life.”

One of those idols was Tiger Woods, who turned down the captaincy because he did not feel like he could devote enough time to do the job well enough to lead the Americans to victory. Woods is embroiled in negotiations between the PGA Tour and Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund as those two entities attempt to work out the framework agreement they currently have in place to reunify the golf world.

Bradley said he spoke with Woods before he accepted the role as captain with Tiger encouraging and supporting him taking the role. Bradley added that he was almost embarrassed by the caliber of candidates passed over for him to be selected.

“Something Seth said to me was, ‘Your number was called; it’s time for you to step up,'” Bradley shared. “When he told me that, it sort of hit me that this is a heavy job, and this is a group of people entrusting me in this. It’s time to step up to the plate and be the captain of this team.”

Bradley appreciated that the call came from Johnson, the man who snubbed him a year ago in favor of Justin Thomas, Rickie Fowler and Sam Burns — all captain’s picks ranked lower than Bradley. Johnson is on a committee including other PGA executives as well as players like Thomas and Jordan Spieth, who helped make the selection.

‘The phone rang and it was Seth Waugh,” Bradley said. “I answered it and he had some pretty incredible news that I had no clue was coming. 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 Tour, and I feel terrible for what he’s had to go through, and I’m so honored that he was the one who called me. I’m going to represent this decision to the best of my abilities and I’m really excited.”

When asked why the PGA picked Bradley ahead of other presumed candidates like Stewart Cink and Steve Stricker, Lindert said Bradley ticked a lot of boxes.

“When Keegan’s name was mentioned, it was a slam dunk. … We had a list. We were kind of bouncing through the list, and we were all looking down the list. Keegan’s name kind of jumped out. As soon as it was mentioned, ‘Keegan Bradley,’ it was, ‘Yeah, absolutely, 100%.'”

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