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Keegan Bradley aims for Ryder Cup playing captain role after surprise appointment

Keegan Bradley aims to be a playing captain in next year's Ryder Cup after admitting he was stunned to be handed the role completely out of the blue.

Bradley was a surprise choice to lead the home side at Bethpage Black in September 2025 after 15-time major winner Tiger Woods turned it down.

The 38-year-old has told Woods he can be "as involved as he wants to be" and admitted he was uncomfortable that some of his "idols" had been overlooked.

Stewart Cink and Fred Couples, vice-captains under Zach Johnson in 2023, had been viewed as more likely candidates.

"I didn't have one conversation with anybody about this until I was told I was the captain two weeks ago," Bradley said, with PGA of America president John Lindert revealing that the decision was taken "with no lobbying" just three days before Bradley was offered the job.

"I felt funny after the call because I don't think I reacted in the way that they were expecting. I was in complete shock. It was heavy and I was a little bit uncomfortable with some of the guys, my idols, that were looked over for this position and I needed a second to figure that out.

"But something Seth [Waugh, PGA of America chief executive] said to me was, ‘your number was called, it's time for you to step up'."

Bradley played on losing sides in 2012 — winning his first three matches with Phil Mickelson — and 2014, and was controversially overlooked for a wild card last year having won twice on the PGA Tour.

The moment he was given the bad news by Johnson was captured on Netflix documentary "Full Swing", with Bradley admitting he was "crushed".

"It took me a while to get over that, we were devastated, my whole family," Bradley said at a press conference in New York.

"I bleed red, white and blue and I was thrilled to be able to watch these guys and I was pulling for them. It was a weird feeling knowing that I could have been there and maybe helped the team, but I know what a tough decision Zach had.

"I've only been the captain for two weeks and I find myself staring at the ceiling at 2am thinking about every single situation, so I have a different perspective now and I have nothing but admiration and respect for Zach Johnson."

Bradley believes playing on the PGA Tour with his prospective team members will help make up for a lack of captaincy experience but insisted he would not pick himself.

"I want to play on the team. I feel as though I'm still in the prime of my career," Bradley said.

"I'm not going to pick myself. The only way that would happen is if the team was insisting on 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."

Woods gave a short statement which was read out during the press conference and will be a heavy favourite to captain the side at Adare Manor in 2027.

"With my new responsibilities to the [PGA] 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.

"That does not mean I wouldn't want to captain a team in the future. If and when I feel it is the right time, I will put my hat in the ring."

Bradley said: "I have told him he can be as involved as he wants to be. We all look up to Tiger and his opinion means a lot to us.

"The public doesn't realise how important this is to him. He lives and breathes this event and I think it shows you how much he cares by turning this position down because he didn't feel like he could put in what he needed to."

Bradley believes his former partner Mickelson has no interest in being one of his vice-captains but will still captain the side at some point despite his move to LIV Golf, with Bradley happy to select players from the Saudi-funded breakaway.

"I'm going to have the 12 best players on the team. I don't care where they play," Bradley said.

"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 clue how the layout of the golf world's going to be.

"As it comes to going to LIV events [which Johnson refused to countenance], if there's guys that are on the fringe, I'm willing to do that."

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