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Keegan Bradley's Ryder Cup Appointment Makes No Sense

By: | Wed 10 Jul 2024

View From The Fairway by Derek Clements

What on earth were they thinking? When I heard that Keegan Bradley had been named US Ryder Cup captain, I nearly choked on my Corn Flakes. They would be better off with Kevin Keegan at the helm!

In what world does this appointment make sense to anybody?

Obviously, Tiger Woods was the first choice but decided that he was not ready or able to make the commitment to what has become a full-time job. Call me old-fashioned but I would have thought that the PGA of America might have anticipated this and had a contingency plan in place. It is quite clear that, no matter what they would have us believe, this was not the case.

Bradley has not even served as a vice-captain.

PGA of America president John Lindert, who made the announcement, said: "Keegan's past Ryder Cup experience, strong relationships and unwavering passion for this event will prove invaluable as he guides the US team over the next year and a half. We are confident that with Keegan at the helm, the 2025 US Ryder Cup Team will compete at Bethpage with the same confidence and determination that has defined his career."

I am sorry, I must have missed something. His past Ryder Cup experiences consists of two defeats in both contests in which he has played, and a snub in 2023 that left him feeling bitter and extremely angry at being overlooked.

In the past the PGA of America has made some serious mistakes in picking captains who were out of touch. Tom Watson at Gleneagles in 2014 is a classic case in point. Watson is much-loved and a highly respected figure in the game of golf but has time had come and gone. And he didn’t help himself by picking the likes of Raymond Floyd as one of his vice-captains.

There were a host of better qualified candidates for this job - Matt Kuchar, Webb Simpson, Lucas Glover, Stewart Cink, Jimmy Walker, Jason Dufner. Even Freddie Couples. Each and every one of these men surely has a better claim to the job than Bradley. And it has emerged that Cink was expecting the call. But it never came.

There is also the question of Bradley’s age. He is only 38 years old.

What on earth happens if he hits a rich vein of form and qualifies the team? It is not beyond the bounds of possibility. He is ranked 19th in the world. That means he gets into all four majors and the PGA Tour’s signature events. He could easily make the team.

I do wonder if the US PGA have given him the job to make sure he does not get into the team. Obviously, that is not a serious suggestion but I am truly struggling to find a logical reason for his appointment.

He was snubbed by Zach Johnson last year despite winning twice on the PGA Tour - something he had never previously managed to do. Now Johnson made a lot of mistakes but I am not sure that leaving Bradley out of the team was one of them.

By all accounts, he is not universally popular among his peers.

And his Ryder Cup record is poor, to say the least. He has played for the USA twice and they lost on both occasions - at Medinah in 2012 when Europe came back from the dead and two years later at Gleneagles, when Watson’s team were on the wrong end of a fearful hiding.

Maybe he will feel that he has a point to prove after those losses and last year’s snub.

His appointment took everybody by surprise.

US PGA champion Xander Schauffele said: "Yeah, it's surprising. You typically expect someone that's a little bit older to get selected as a captain. I think a lot of people were banking on Tiger to do it. 

"He obviously has a lot on his plate. Keegan expressed his love for the Ryder Cup publicly, which we all saw.  I haven't talked to him or seen him yet but I'm sure he's over the moon and is going to do a great job.

"He is so laidback off the course. If you get him in like a dinner setting, he loves sports and he'll talk about sports all night long. He's a very passionate individual. On the course he's intense, that's just how he competes and how he is. 

"As a captain, he's going to have a mixed bag and he's not going to be afraid to hold a speech with the guys and get everyone going."

Schauffele rightly says that it comes down to the players to perform if the USA are to take back the trophy. While that is certainly true, a captain can also lose the contest by failing to motivate players and getting pairings all wrong - Johnson certainly did that at Marco Simone in 2023.

Schauffele said: "When you lose that many cups overseas, you definitely start to get in your own head. Just like I didn't win a tournament for two years, you look in the mirror and start going, what's wrong here. That's a little different, but they are going to point every single direction.

"But at the end of the day us players didn't play well. I haven't watched a lot of cups overseas where both teams played well and it was super competitive and teams got beat. 

"I played awful. I felt like I didn't show up until the final round and it was already way too late to play good golf at that point."

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