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'Mission to win' - US captain Bradley to visit LIV events

Keegan Bradley watches his ball in flight
Keegan Bradley has been chosen to succeed Zach Johnson as US Ryder Cup captain [Getty Images]

New United States Ryder Cup captain Keegan Bradley is prepared to travel to LIV Golf events to help select the strongest 12 golfers for the American team for next year's match.

At a news conference in New York, the 38-year-old - currently a top-20 player - admitted his appointment came as a "complete shock" after Tiger Woods rejected an offer to do the job.

Bradley stated he will also try to qualify for the team he is scheduled to lead at Bethpage Black in September 2025.

He narrowly missed automatic selection for last year's defeat in Rome and was devastated when he was overlooked by former skipper Zach Johnson for a wildcard selection.

Bradley was not regarded a candidate for the role until Woods turned down the chance to succeed Johnson, citing too many commitments on the PGA Tour's policy board.

Woods is heavily involved in negotiations between the tour and Saudi Arabia's Public Investment Fund, aimed at ending the game's civil war following the arrival of the Saudi-backed LIV tour.

For last year's contest, Johnson paid scant attention to players from the breakaway circuit, but did select the then-PGA champion Brooks Koepka. The recent US Open winner, Bryson DeChambeau, was among those overlooked for the Italian job.

"I want the 12 best players and I don't care where they play," Bradley told reporters in his first public comments since his surprise appointment.

"We have a mission to win this tournament, I'm not worried about the LIV stuff.

"By the time we get to Bethpage in 2025, we have no idea how the layout of the golf world is going to be.

"As it comes to going to LIV events, if there's guys that are going to be on the fringe, I'm willing to do that."

The 2011 PGA champion, currently ranked 19th in the world, believes he can qualify for the line-up.

"One thing that is important to me is I want to play on the team," added Bradley.

"I feel as though I'm still in the prime of my career and can make this team. So, you know, it's a great honour that my peers chose me to do this.

"I don't have the experience that a lot of the other captains had, but I know these guys really well, I'm connected to these guys and I see them week to week."

'I'm so honoured it was Zach who told me'

Bradley was offered the job on 30 June, four days after Woods informed the PGA of America he did not want to be captain.

The 15-time major champion said: "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.

"That does not 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."

The approach to Bradley came from his immediate predecessor Johnson, who was heavily criticised after the US were beaten 16½-11½ by Luke Donald's Europeans.

Keegan Bradley in action at the 2014 Ryder Cup
Keegan Bradley played in the 2012 and 2014 Ryder Cups, both of which ended in defeat for the United States [Getty Images]

"There were no conversations until Zach phoned me and told me I was going to be captain," Bradley said.

"I was in complete shock, especially as some of my golfing idols were overlooked.

"But I'm so honoured it was Zach who told me. I feel terrible for what happened to him in Rome.

"After that clip [in a Netflix documentary] that showed I was crushed at not being picked by Zach [as a wildcard], you also saw me and my family cheering on the American team on TV. I love the Ryder Cup and bleed red, white and blue."

Bradley was preferred to former Open champion Stewart Cink, 1992 Masters winner Fred Couples and former skippers Steve Stricker and Davis Love III.

Explaining the decision, PGA of America president John Lindert said: "You have a PGA champion, you have somebody who went to school here, is familiar with the New York base, the fanbase, is very familiar with Bethpage Black, is the son of a PGA member.

"There are a lot of boxes that Keegan checked off and his enthusiasm for the Ryder Cup stood out above everything else and we just felt that that was the 'aha' moment.

"When Keegan's name was mentioned all hands went up and we were 100% behind it."