Fact or Fiction: Keegan Bradley Is the Right Choice for U.S. Ryder Cup Captain

SI Golf’s writers and editors debate Keegan Bradley’s surprise captaincy, LIV Golf’s participation in the 2025 Ryder Cup and whether the current points system is the best approach.
Keegan Bradley was a surprise choice to lead the 2025 U.S. Ryder Cup team.
Keegan Bradley was a surprise choice to lead the 2025 U.S. Ryder Cup team. / USA Today

Welcome back to SI Golf’s Fact or Fiction, where the countdown to the 2025 Ryder Cup has officially begun. (In case you’re wondering, it’s 443 days.)

Once again, we’re here to debate a series of statements for writers and editors to declare as “Fact” or “Fiction” along with a brief explanation. Responses may also (occasionally) be “Neutral” since there's a lot of gray area in golf.

Do you agree or disagree? Let us know on the SI Golf X account.

With Tiger Woods out of the picture, Keegan Bradley was the right pick for U.S. Ryder Cup captain. 

Bob Harig: FACT. The U.S. suddenly finds itself lacking the pipeline that it was supposed to be building over the past 10 years. And while Keegan Bradley has no experience, he is a well-regarded current player who loves the Ryder Cup and has plenty of experienced hands to draw upon. He talked about wanting to rebuild the pool of future talent. A reset at a venue where the Americans will have plenty of motivation regardless of the captain seems a good place.

John Pluym: FACT. I actually think Bradley is the perfect choice to be captain. As Bob said, Bradley loves the Ryder Cup, and his passion will no doubt carry over to the players who represent the U.S. Bradley made his Ryder Cup debut at Medinah in 2012, teaming with Phil Mickelson to go 3-0 before losing to Rory McIlroy in singles. But Bradley had the crowd and Mickelson pumped up before the U.S. collapsed that Sunday. I have no doubt he’ll pump up the team as well as U.S. fans at Bethpage.

Jeff Ritter: FACT. I never even remotely saw it coming, but I like it. Bradley breaks away from the current pipeline, or whatever was left of it, and signals a new beginning for U.S. captaincies. He’ll surround himself with a mix of experience and newness, like his deputy John Wood, and I think the upside here outweighs any potential falloff.

John Schwarb: FACT. If you had told me, without the name, that the captain would be a major champ also with a handful of top-shelf wins, multiple Ryder Cups as a player, a Tour veteran with enough game to maybe qualify on his own and a solid reputation, I’d be all-in. “A” grades in July 2024 for a 2025 Ryder Cup are easy to hand out, but that’s where I am with this move.

In his introductory press conference as captain, Bradley said he wants “the 12 best players on the team” no matter which tour they’re from. Much can change before then but the U.S. team will have at least two LIV golfers.

Bob Harig: FACT. This seems pretty easy at this point. Bryson DeChambeau has been a major force this year and his long-driving ability is an asset at Bethpage. Brooks Koepka has won at Bethpage. If both are anywhere near their best, it would be foolish not to include them.

John Pluym: FACT. It’s simple for Bradley: Put the best 12 players on the team. If it’s DeChambeau and Koepka, so be it. It shouldn’t matter if they play on LIV or the PGA Tour. 

Jeff Ritter: FACT. It’s a layup. If the Ryder Cup were this fall, there’s no way Bryson DeChambeau would be off Bradley’s team. Bradley is simply acknowledging the possibility of a Bryson Year happening again in 2025 and remaining open to it.

John Schwarb: FACT. Bryson for sure. Koepka likely. And if this player shows form next year, maybe with a couple LIV wins and strong majors, I can absolutely see Bradley living up to his “best players” mantra and picking his former Ryder Cup teammate … Patrick Reed. How much fun would that be?

When it comes to selecting the U.S. team, the current system of six players qualifying on points and six captain’s picks is the best. 

Bob Harig: FICTION. The points list too closely mirrors what is done on the PGA Tour on a week-to-week basis. It’s why there is so much angst over who is doing what when, really, the idea is to have not only the best players but the best pairings and matchups. The idea that a “hot” player is imperative goes out the window when you consider that the hottest player in the game bombed at the U.S. Open. In 18-hole match play, anything can happen. It would be great if the entire team is selected without automatic qualifiers. It’s dumb that players are earning points this year or automatically make a team based on early-season performance.

John Pluym: FICTION. It should be about who’s playing the best, especially in big tournaments. A major win should carry a ton of weight, but not automatically put you on the team. Yes, it’s great to win a major championship. But what if the player doesn’t perform well the rest of the season? And I’m not for more captains picks because captains tend to pick their best friends, not the best players. 

Jeff Ritter: FICTION. I’d be fine with the four major winners of 2025 auto-earning spots, which would fill a max of four, and the captain selecting the rest. More captain’s picks makes a better system and a stronger team.

John Schwarb: FICTION. Six-and-six feels like it’s straddling some kind of imaginary fence. A points list is fine as a guide, but only the top earner should be guaranteed a spot. Win a major in 2025 and you’re also in. Then every other spot is up to the captain. He deserves that flexibility.

If Bradley leads a winning team at Bethpage he should be retained as captain with the chance to go back-to-back in 2027, similar to what Luke Donald is attempting with the European team.

Bob Harig: FICTION. It’s a nice idea but better to have Bradley involved as an assistant. His wisdom will still be vital and he can better get back to his own career while helping someone else.

John Pluym: FACT. If the U.S. wins, why not have Bradley captain the team in 2027? It should be about winning and nothing more. Even if Tiger Woods is waiting in the wings. If the U.S. rolls at Bethpage, give Bradley the job in ’27. We already know that one-and-done captaincies don’t seem to work.   

Jeff Ritter: FICTION. This is his shot, and then the PGA should tee up one of Bradley’s deputies for 2027.

John Schwarb: FACT. Maybe Tiger is positioning himself for Adare Manor and if the U.S. can’t win at Bethpage (don’t even want to think about it), he’ll have dibs again. But if the U.S. romps, Captain Bradley will have earned the right to try to end the maddening 30-year road drought. And if he does, the next stop is the Hall of Fame.


Published
Jeff Ritter

JEFF RITTER

Jeff Ritter is the Managing Director of SI Golf. He spent more than a decade at Sports Illustrated and Golf Magazine, and in 2020 joined Morning Read to help spark its growth and eventual acquisition by Sports Illustrated in 2022. He's a member of the Golf Writers' Association of America (GWAA) and has covered more than 25 major championships. He helped launch SI Golf Plus Digital, Golf Magazine’s first original, weekly e-magazine, and served as its top editor. He also launched Golf's “Films” division, the magazine’s first long-form video storytelling franchise, and his debut documentary received an Edward R. Murrow Award for sports reporting. His writing has earned first-place awards from the Society of American Travel Writers, the MIN Magazine Awards, and the Golf Writers Association of America, among others. He received a bachelor’s degree from the University of Michigan and a master’s from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University. A native Michigander, he remains a diehard Wolverine fan and will defend Jim Harbaugh until the bitter end.

Bob Harig

BOB HARIG

Bob Harig is a senior writer covering golf for Sports Illustrated. He has more than 25 years experience on the beat, including 15 at ESPN. Harig is a regular guest on Sirius XM PGA Tour Radio and has written two books, "DRIVE: The Lasting Legacy of Tiger Woods" and "Tiger and Phil: Golf's Most Fascinating Rivalry." He graduated from Indiana University where he earned an Evans Scholarship, named in honor of the great amateur golfer Charles (Chick) Evans Jr. Harig, a former president of the Golf Writers Association of America, lives in Clearwater, Fla.

John Schwarb

JOHN SCHWARB

John Schwarb is the senior golf editor for Sports Illustrated whose career has spanned more than 25 years covering sports. He’s been featured on ESPN.com, PGATour.com, The Golfers Journal and Tampa Bay Times. He’s also the author of The Little 500: The Story of the World's Greatest College Weekend. A member of the Golf Writers Association of America, John is based in Indianapolis.

John Pluym

JOHN PLUYM

John Pluym is the managing editor for NFL and golf content at Sports Illustrated. A sports history buff, he previously spent 10 years at ESPN overseeing NFL coverage. John has won several awards throughout his career, including from the Society of News Design and Associated Press Sports Editors. As a native Minnesotan, he enjoys spending time on his boat and playing golf.