Keegan Bradley Calls on Fans To Pack Bethpage Black, Support Ryder Cup Team in 2025

St. John’s alumnus is surprise choice to captain the U.S. team.

AP/Seth Wenig
Keegan Bradley, holding a Ryder Cup trophy, poses in front of the NASDAQ building at Times Square, July 9, 2024. AP/Seth Wenig

Keegan Bradley, a New England native and St. John’s University grad, wasted no time stirring up New York golf fans expected to flood Long Island for the Ryder Cup matches at Bethpage Black next year.

“I think the fans are going to be our 13th team member,” Mr. Bradley said on Tuesday when he was formally introduced as the captain of the 2025 United States Ryder Cup team during a press conference at Times Square. “I’ve always thought of Bethpage as New York’s home course, which is now America’s home course. And I want the fans to treat it that way. They need to defend this course in the right, appropriate way. But this is where fans and New Yorkers need to come and support this team. These New York fans are going to be pulling for us hard and I love that.”

Mr. Bradley is a surprise choice to lead the American team that is scheduled to challenge the Europeans on September 26-28, 2025, at the famed public course that hosted the 2002 and 2009 U.S. Opens. Phil Mickelson was ticketed to be the captain before leaving the PGA Tour for LIV Golf. After Tiger Woods declined the job due to his responsibilities on the PGA Tour Policy Board and the negotiations with LIV Golf, the PGA of America turned to Mr. Bradley, who has played on two Ryder Cup teams but never served as an assistant captain.

The president of the PGA America, John Lindert, said Mr. Bradley’s New York roots played a large part in the selection. The Ryder Cup is a rowdy event where fans can be partisan and vocal. It’s the closest thing to a football crowd that golf gets. Mr. Bradley, a die-hard New England Patriots and Boston Red Sox fan, embraces that. “Coming to New York, where he is looked on fondly, and his familiarity with Bethpage Black all played in our decision,” Mr. Lindert said on Golf Channel. “Keegan brings an intensity that will match the crowd intensity and that should be very beneficial. It’s going to be a very passionate fan base and we’re going to need a captain that can guide our team through those emotions and Keegan’s the man.”

Mr. Bradley won the 2011 PGA Championship as a rookie and has captured five other PGA Tour events. He played on Ryder Cup teams in 2012 at Medinah and 2014 at Gleneagles, Scotland. The U.S. lost both events.

He was bitterly disappointed when he wasn’t one of the six captain’s picks made by Zach Johnson to be part of the 2023 U.S. Ryder Cup team that lost in Rome. It’s a bitter moment captured in the sixth episode of the second season of Netflix’s “Full Swing” series. Mr. Bradley discounted the idea his reaction on the show played any part in his selection. “This is such a huge decision I don’t think it will be ever based on how someone was portrayed on TV,” he said.

What resonated was his passion to be part of the Ryder Cup experience. Now he will lead the team. At age 38, he is the youngest U.S. Ryder Cup captain since Arnold Palmer in 1963, breaking the mold of 40- and 50-something captains in recent years.

Mr. Bradley grew up in golf. His father Mark is a long-time PGA member and his aunt Pat Bradley is an LPGA Hall of Famer. Still, Mr. Bradley admitted he was in “complete shock” and felt “funny” when he got the call. “I don’t think I’ll ever have a bigger surprise in my life,” he said, adding, “It’s time for me to step up to the plate and be the captain of this team.”

As it stands now, Mr. Bradley must make six captain’s picks to add to the six players who qualify on points. It’s something to contemplate over the next year while competing for enough points to earn a spot on the team.

“I look forward to getting to know the younger guys more,” he said. “And talking to the studs of the American team. Their enthusiasm for this tournament is very high and I look forward to leading those guys.”

That may include players from LIV Golf like the U.S. Open champion, Bryson DeChambeau. “I’m going to have the 12 best players on the team,” he insisted. “I don’t care where they play. We have a mission to win this tournament. I’m not worried about the LIV stuff. I want the best players on the team. By the time we get to 2025, we have no clue what the golf world is going to be.”

You can guarantee it will be loud at Bethpage Black.

The New York Sun

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