The process of selecting Keegan Bradley as the 31st captain of the U.S. Ryder Cup wasn’t what one might call drawn out and complicated. The six-man Ryder Cup committee considered a number of candidates after Tiger Woods bowed out for the 2025 matches at Bethpage State Park, but when Bradley’s name was put forth, it was, in the words of PGA of America President John Lindert, “a slam dunk.”

At 38 years old, Bradley will be the youngest captain since Arnold Palmer served as playing captain in 1963. Yet Bradley will have more Ryder Cup experience than Palmer, who made his Ryder Cup debut in 1961, going 3-0-1 at Royal Lytham, before being selected to lead the U.S. squad at Atlanta Athletic Club. It didn’t hurt that he was, you know, Arnold Palmer.

MORE: Keegan Bradley never interviewed to be Ryder Cup captain

Bradley’s Ryder Cup experience spans the 2012 and ’14 editions in which he went 4-3. He also went 2-2-1 in the 2013 Presidents Cup. He has never served as a vice-captain in either of the biennial match-play events. That said, having such experience has only been a recent development.

So what made Bradley, painfully left off the 2023 Ryder Cup team after a two-win season, a slam dunk?

It certainly didn’t hurt that he is a former PGA champion, having won in 2011 at, of all places, Atlanta Athletic Club. Nice little coincidence there. His father Mark is a PGA teaching professional in Wyoming and his aunt, Pat Bradley, is a Hall of Famer who has won six major titles. His golf pedigree might supersede that of two-time captain Davis Love III, who also won a PGA and is the son of a PGA professional.

“We didn’t really discuss that kind of procedure and whether we wanted to move away from a captain having a vice captain’s position prior,” Lindert said. “We were really trying to find the best person to lead Team USA to a victory, and it very simply came down to one person and that was Keegan.

“Keegan checked a lot of boxes, and his passion for the game, his passion for the Ryder Cup, is evident and just him being from around this area and how the people around here, all the text messages that we received about Keegan has been absolutely outstanding. And the amount of support that he’s received from the community and from New York City is fabulous. I think that all went into the decision, and we picked the best person that we knew to pick and put everything else aside.”

Interestingly, Lindert revealed that the distance from Point A (idea) to Point B (making the offer of the captaincy) was a short one. Like, four days.

“The first opportunity that we had to organize a call we did. We had a nice conversation about potential captains,” Lindert said. “Without any real timeline set, we came to a pretty quick decision. This came about very rapidly to get this done in two weeks.

“We had a list, and we were kind of bouncing through the list and we were all looking through the list, and Keegan’s name kind of jumped out, and as soon as it was mentioned Keegan Bradley, it was, yeah, absolutely, a hundred per cent.”

One past captain who applauded the decision was Love, who, after more than a decade immersed in the Ryder Cup and Presidents Cup, enjoyed the luxury of looking at the ongoing situation from the outside.

“If you made a long list of people with credentials, Keegan would be a strong candidate,” Love said by telephone. “You know, he’s just missed out on so many teams, he’s been so close, so many times on the bubble, that feels like he’s been a part of more teams than he has been.

“I think from the aspect of being really good in understanding the big picture, Keegan is a very good choice. If I had to list players on teams who do exactly what I ask you to do and never bat an eye and then went out and played with incredible passion, Keegan is at the top of the list. Dustin Johnson is right behind him. He’s a stand-up guy. He’s quietly very smart and very aware.

“Everyone has to figure out his own leadership style,” Love added. “I’m so excited for him just because he deserves it after the last few years. But what would be really cool is if he makes the team. Maybe he just relaxes and just goes crazy. That’s what I’m hoping.”

Main image: Keegan Bradley celebrates a birdies putt during the 2012 Ryder Cup. Jamie Squire