“Complete shock:” newly minted Ryder Cup captain Keegan Bradley details stunning decision

After tying for 39th at the Travelers Championship three weeks ago, Keegan Bradley got in his car with his two young children and made the three-hour drive home. The Travelers defending champion was exhausted from a grueling three-week stretch that included the U.S. Open sandwiched in between.

Add his parenting duties to that, and Bradley felt drained. All he wanted to do was sit at home, relax, and take some time off to spend with his wife, Jillian, and children. So later that night, after dinner, when he finally got his kids to bed, he sat down in his chair to unwind from the wild month that had been.

Then, around 8 p.m., he received a phone call from Zach Johnson, PGA of America CEO Seth Waugh, and PGA of America President John Lindert.

It would change his life.

With Waugh and Lindert listening in, Johnson delivered shocking news: Keegan Bradley—not Tiger Woods, Fred Couples, or Stewart Cink—will serve as the American Ryder Cup captain in 2025 at Bethpage Black.

Ryder Cup, Bethpage Black

The Ryder Cup trophy at the Bethpage Black Course.
Photo by Gary Kellner/PGA of America via Getty Images

“I don’t think I’ll ever be more surprised by anything in my entire life. I had no idea… I was in complete shock,” Bradley said Tuesday.

“It took a while 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 who came before me and people who deserve to be in this position, so that was a heavy thought and moment.”

Of course, this represents a full-circle moment for Johnson and Bradley. Last August, Johnson phoned Bradley and informed him that he had missed out on the 2023 Ryder Cup team. Netflix’s Full Swing series even captured the heartbreaking moment live on camera, which aired during one of the episodes. But even without the live shot of Bradley and his wife Jillian in disbelief, golf fans criticized Johnson for leaving the 2011 PGA Championship winner off the team.

“This is such a huge decision, and I don’t think it would ever be based on how someone was portrayed on TV,” Bradley said when asked if he thought his Netflix appearance played a role.

“I think that the Ryder Cup committee has a very serious job, especially with the event being at Bethpage in New York, in America, to make a decision that’s best for the team. I couldn’t imagine that they would decide based on how Netflix portrayed me in filming. I was very grateful for the Ryder Cup’s decision, and I would be very surprised if any of that went into that decision.”

What led to the PGA of America’s decision is Bradley’s immense passion for this competition. Nobody bleeds red, white, and blue more than Bradley, as he has said that he thinks about the Ryder Cup “every second he is awake.”

But he has struggled to sleep lately, which has made him think about his obsession with the Ryder Cup even more. Bradley admitted that he has had numerous sleepless nights over the past two weeks because he has envisioned every possible scenario already—roughly 14 months from when the Ryder Cup begins. Surely, more insomnia will follow between now and then.

Jack Milko is a golf staff writer for SB Nation’s Playing Through. Be sure to check out @_PlayingThrough for more golf coverage. You can follow him on Twitter @jack_milko as well.

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