Keegan Bradley on being named 2025 U.S. Ryder Cup captain: ‘I don’t think I’ll ever be more surprised with anything in my life’

Keegan Bradley was as surprised as anyone that he had been chosen to be the U.S. captain for the 2025 Ryder Cup at Bethpage Black in New York.

“I don’t think I’ll ever be more surprised with anything in my life,” Bradley said on Tuesday during a press conference in Manhattan officially announcing his selection. “I was in complete shock. (PGA CEO) Seth Waugh said to me, ‘Your number was called and it’s time for you to step up.’ ”

Bradley, a six-time PGA Tour winner, including the 2011 PGA Championship, has played in two Ryder Cups – none since 2014 – and one Presidents Cup. He has never been an assistant captain or captain for either biennial competition. Bradley, who will be 39 at the time of next year’s Ryder Cup, will be the youngest Ryder Cup captain since 34-year-old Arnold Palmer was a playing captain in 1963. Bradley, who is ranked No. 19 in the Official World Golf Ranking and 37th in this season’s FedEx Cup standings, said he’d like to make the team as a player but would have to earn enough points to be an automatic qualifier.

Bradley’s selection is a departure from how the U.S. side has been picking its captain since the Ryder Cup Task Force was formed after its defeat in Scotland in 2014. Phil Mickelson often had talked about his desire to be the captain of the Ryder Cup at Bethpage Black but forfeited that honor when he joined LIV Golf. Tiger Woods, who served as the winning captain of the 2019 Presidents Cup and was an eight-time Ryder Cup participant, was the frontrunner for the job but elected to pass on the position this time around.

“With my new responsibilities to the Tour and time commitments involved, I felt I would not be able to commit the time to Team USA and the players required as a captain,” Woods said in a statement. “It doesn’t mean I wouldn’t want to captain a team in the future. If, when I feel it is the right time, I will put my hat in the ring for this committee to decide.”

2023 Travelers Championship
2023 Travelers Championship

Keegan Bradley celebrates with the trophy after winning the final round of the Travelers Championship at TPC River Highlands on June 25, 2023 in Cromwell, Connecticut. (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)

Bradley was left off the 2023 U.S. team that lost in Rome in September despite finishing 11th in the point standings and ahead of captain’s picks Rickie Fowler and Justin Thomas. The world witnessed his disappointment in the Netflix documentary “Full Swing,” when he received a phone call from then-captain Zach Johnson that he didn’t make the team.

“I was crushed,” Bradley said.

PGA President John Lindert said that the Ryder Cup selection committee held a phone call a little over two weeks ago and that Bradley was the unanimous choice for the job. He didn’t even have to interview for the post. Bradley was informed of his selection during a phone call as he was driving home from the Travelers Championship and Johnson delivered the good news this time.

Despite being a diehard New England Patriots and Boston Red Sox fan, Bradley has ties to New York having attended St. John’s University in Queens.

“My New Yorkers only care that you bleed red, white and blue and that you win,” said two-time Super Bowl winning QB Eli Manning, formerly of the New York Giants.

Bradley admitted that he often skipped classes on Monday in college when the course superintendent allowed the team to park near the maintenance area and play hole Nos. 3-14 at Bethpage Black when the course is closed. One day, during his senior year, Bradley slipped on to the famous stretch of 15-18 and it didn’t end well.

“The police were called,” he said.

Bradley, the son of a PGA professional, grew up in Vermont and was 13 when his father took him to the 1999 Ryder Cup in Brookline, Massachusetts, and watched from his father’s shoulders as Justin Leonard made a famous putt at the 17thgreen at The Country Club to help lead Team USA to the greatest comeback in Ryder Cup history. Bradley recalled running on the 18th green to join in the celebration.

“It changed my life,” he said.

Bradley made the U.S side in 2012 and was on the other end of blowing a 10-6 lead to the Europeans. Bradley promised that he wouldn’t open his Ryder Cup suitcase until his team won. He was a captain’s pick when the U.S. lost in 2014. More than a decade later, the bag remains shut.

“I hope to open it someday,” he said.

Bradley noted that he would choose the best 12 players regardless of whether they played on the PGA Tour or LIV, and that he would be looking to include some younger vice captains to help set up future choices for captains.

“I’ve only been the captain for two weeks,” Bradley said, “but I already find myself staring at the ceiling at 2 a.m. thinking about every situation.”

Story originally appeared on GolfWeek