With Tiger Woods' approval, Keegan Bradley locks in Ryder Cup captaincy — perhaps even as a player

NEW YORK — (AP) — Keegan Bradley was just as shocked as anyone when Zach Johnson told him he'd been selected as the 2025 U.S. Ryder Cup captain.

It was two weeks ago on a Sunday night — the children had just been put to bed, and Bradley was ready to kick his feet up and relax after three weeks on the road.

Then came the phone call.

“I don’t think I’ll ever be more surprised of anything in my entire life,” Bradley said Tuesday as he was introduced as the captain at NASDAQ headquarters in New York. “I had no idea. It took awhile for it to sink in.

“I wasn’t fully comfortable with some of the people that were passed over. I have a lot of respect for the people that came before me and people that deserve to be in this position, so that was a heavy thought and moment.”

Once Bradley composed himself, he realized he had his own phone call to make. It was to Tiger Woods.

“I’ve been grateful — before I accepted this job I needed to talk to Tiger and I wanted to make sure I — I wanted to hear from him,” Bradley said. “We had a great conversation. I certainly need his input.”

Woods was widely viewed as the heir to the captaincy, but after considering his current obligations, he decided it was in the PGA's best interest to go with someone else. The PGA read a statement from Woods at Bradley's introductory news conference.

“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 the statement. “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.”

With Woods out, the PGA of America had to look in a different direction to succeed Johnson, the previous captain who is on the Ryder Cup committee.

They decided to go with the 38-year-old Bradley, the youngest U.S. Ryder Cup captain since a 34-year-old Arnold Palmer in 1963.

Bradley competed in the Ryder Cup in 2012 and 2014, both losses for the Americans. He has long talked about wanting to redeem those results, famously holding onto his packed 2012 bag and vowing not to open it until he's a Ryder Cup winner.

After two PGA Tour victories, a runner-up finish and six top-10s last season, including in the Tour Championship, Bradley was considered a candidate for the 2023 team. But he was not selected by Johnson. That devastated Bradley, whose reaction to being rejected was captured on the Netflix golf documentary series “Full Swing.”

Now the team captain, Bradley still believes he's got what it takes to qualify for the team. He is No. 19 in the world ranking, after all. And he was clear in his intention to do just that, a feat that would make him the first U.S. Ryder Cup playing captain since Palmer in '63 if he could pull it off.

“I feel as though I’m still in the prime of my career and can make this team,” Bradley said.

Bradley is perhaps the most familiar American player with the 2025 course, Bethpage Black on Long Island. He grew up playing there in college, where he attended St. John's University. He even joked about skipping class to play at Bethpage.

“I’m not going to pick myself," Bradley said. "The only way that would happen is if the team was insisting it but even if they did I don’t see that happening. I want to make the team on points, otherwise I’m going to be the captain.”


AP golf:

Comments on this article