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From HHS golfer to U.S. Ryder Cup captain, Bradley stays on course

by | Jul 10, 2024 | Featured: Sports, Sports

The American Ryder Cup team surprised much of the golf world when it selected PGA Tour standout Keegan Bradley, a 2004 Hopkinton High School graduate, as team captain for the 2025 event.

Even his former high school coach, Dick Bliss, said he was “shocked” at the choice. But even if the selection was a surprise, Bliss said Team USA is in good hands.

“He will be unbelievable,” Bliss said. “The way he has handled everything. He is humble at one point, but he thinks things through. Whether it’s out on the golf course or whatever he does, he thinks things through, and he will find a way.”

The American team will be looking to regain the Ryder Cup after losing to the Europeans last summer in Rome in the biennial competition between the two sides. Bradley had hoped to earn a spot on that roster as a selection of then-captain Zach Johnson, but he was left off the team, and the second season of the Netflix show “Full Swing” captured the emotional phone call between the two.

This year, Johnson called Bradley to tell him some good news, that he would be the 2025 captain.

“I think it just speaks to what kind of man and person Zach Johnson is,” Bradley said during his introductory press conference on Tuesday. “I have just such respect for him. He was one of my idols that I looked up to when I first came out on the Tour … and I’m so honored that he was the one who called me.”

Bradley said he was “incredibly humbled and honored” to be named captain.

“Being on a Ryder Cup team changes your life forever,” he said. “Being in the room with those guys and feeling the extreme pressure of this tournament will change you. The dream of being a Ryder Cup captain is something that a lot of us don’t even think about because it’s such a prestigious honor, and I never knew if I would get this opportunity.”

Bradley has played on two Ryder Cup teams and was part of a winning team in the Presidents Cup, which pits the United States against an international team from anywhere but Europe. He also won the 2011 PGA Championship.

Before playing his college golf at St. John’s, Bradley, who grew up in Vermont, won individual and team state titles during his lone year playing for Bliss and the Hillers.

“He was a Ryder Cup fan from all the way back in high school,” Bliss said. “He had so many dreams, and all of his dreams have come true.”

The Ryder Cup will be played on the Black Course at Bethpage State Park in New York, which was a home course for Bradley during his college years.

“It’s so nice that it’s going to be back at Bethpage,” Bliss said. “He played there every day during the summer when he was going to St John’s. He stayed there, he worked in the pro shop, he’s played that course forever.”

Unlike many Ryder Cup captains who are older and past their golfing prime, Bradley is ranked in the top 20 in the Official World Golf Rankings. Bliss said that he could envision Bradley playing for the team if he qualified automatically, but he would not select himself as a captain’s pick. At 38, Bradley is the youngest captain since Arnold Palmer served as a player-captain in 1963.

Bradley told reporters that his love affair with the Ryder Cup began when he was 13 years old in 1999 and watched in person as the Americans staged an epic comeback to beat the Europeans at The Country Club in Brookline.

“That moment changed my life forever,” he said.

Bliss said he hopes to be able to make it to Bethpage next year, but has no doubt that his former pupil will continue to make Hopkinton proud.

“He’s handled everything with class,” Bliss said. “He will be a great captain.”

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