LIV Golf's Phil Mickelson, Bryson DeChambeau Happy for Ryder Cup Captain Keegan Bradley

Like most of the golf world, Mickelson said he was surprised at the pick but that his former Ryder Cup partner passion's for the event would make him a great leader.
Keegan Bradley and Phil Mickelson partnered in several U.S. team events, including the 2013 Presidents Cup.
Keegan Bradley and Phil Mickelson partnered in several U.S. team events, including the 2013 Presidents Cup. / Allan Henry-USA TODAY Sports

The appointment of Keegan Bradley to the U.S. Ryder Cup captain position came as a big surprise to most of the golf world this week—including Phil Mickelson, once presumed to be the person who would lead the U.S. next year at Bethpage Black.

Mickelson has said several times that his move to LIV Golf two years ago and the subsequent fallout would preclude him from getting consideration for the position.

But he was happy to see his one-time—and successful—Ryder Cup partner get the job.

“I was surprised at the pick, and I think it's a great pick the more I think about it,” Mickelson said Wednesday in advance of the LIV Golf Andalucia event in Spain. “He played a lot of golf at Bethpage when he went to St. John's. His passion for the Ryder Cup is greater than just about any player I've ever seen. His love for the Ryder Cup is more than anybody I know. I think he's going to lead with that type of passion.

“I think he's incredible. I'm really, really happy for him. I think we all are really happy for him knowing how gut-wrenching it was to not be part of the team last year, but to now have the opportunity to lead and go forward I think is great.”

Bradley, 38, was crushed at not getting an at-large pick last year from captain Zach Johnson, who endured considerable criticism in the wake of a 16½ to 11½ loss to Europe last year in Rome that saw several of his captain’s picks perform poorly.

The U.S. has won two of the last four Ryder Cups but has not won on the road in more than 30 years.

Bradley was the surprise choice after Tiger Woods turned down the position.

He has not played in a Ryder Cup since 2014, when the U.S. lost at Gleneagles and Scotland, sparking a Mickelson rebuke of then-captain Tom Watson which led to considerable change in the U.S. Ryder Cup structure.

Mickelson and Bradley were 4–1 as teammates across two Ryder Cups, accounting for all of Bradley’s wins in the competition. They were also 2–1–1 at the 2013 Presidents Cup.

Bradley spoke highly of Mickelson during his introductory news conference Tuesday but said he had not spoken to Lefty and that he didn’t anticipate that Mickelson would be interested in being one of his assistants. Mickelson was not asked about that possibility in Spain.

The new captain did, say, however, that he wants “the best 12 players” and didn’t care where they played.

“I’m excited for him,” said U.S. Open champion Bryson DeChambeau at the same news conference in Spain. “I think it's a great opportunity for him, especially as it relates to younger players. He's going to see that younger threshold, and obviously relate to them a lot more, I would say, because of his age. I mean, what is he, 38 or something like that?

“So yeah, he's seeing the younger-generation game. He's out there still playing, and competing and it's great to have some relatability. As far as picking the best players, that's the right approach and I couldn't be more happy for him as captain.”


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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.