Schauffele surprised at Bradley Ryder Cup captaincy announcement

Mark McGowan

Xander Schauffele (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)

Mark McGowan

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Reigning PGA Championship winner and current Olympic Gold Medal holder Xander Schauffele was as surprised as anybody with the news that Keegan Bradley is set to lead team USA in the 2025 Ryder Cup at Bethpage in New York.

Twice a Ryder Cup player, Schauffele’s experiences in golf’s greatest team spectacle have been at opposite ends of the spectrum, winning in record-breaking fashion at Whistling Straits in 2021 before suffering a heavy defeat last year in Rome.

“Yeah, it’s surprising,” he said to the press prior to the Genesis Scottish Open which he won in 2022. “You typically expect someone that’s a little bit older to get selected as a captain. I think a lot of people were banking on Tiger to do it. He obviously has a lot on his plate.

“So Keegan expressed his love for the Ryder Cup publicly, which we all saw, and I’m sure — I haven’t talked to him or seen him yet, but I’m sure he’s over the moon and is going to do a great job.”

Bradley will have just turned 39 by the time he leads the United States into battle, meaning that there is the prospect of having a first playing captain since Arnold Palmer in 1963. But Schauffele, who had first hand experience of a playing captain when he made his Presidents Cup debut under Tiger Woods in 2019, feels that it’s a big ask to perform two roles, though he’s not ruling it out.

“Yeah, if Keegan is in a really good spot coming in, I mean, Tiger was a playing captain in The Presidents Cup,” he said. “He was telling us about how much stuff he has to do besides playing. So knowing Keegan and how good of a job he’s going to want to do, he’s going to love doing the press and talking about the tournament and the Cup and proud to be an American, all those things. It’s going to be really interesting and fun to see.”

Bradley is an intense individual on the course, but Schauffele has seen the other side of him and says it’s very much at odds with his on-course persona.

“He is so laid back off the course. If you get him in like a dinner setting or something, he loves sports. He’ll talk about sports all night long if you like. He’s very passionate individual,” he explained.

“On the course, he’s intense. That’s just how he competes and how he is. I’m sure as a captain he’s going to have sort of a mixed bag. He won’t be afraid and will get everyone going. I don’t know if he’s coached or captained any other teams in his life, whether it’s his kids’ teams or something like that, but when someone is really passionate about something, they usually do really well.”

Scahuffele feels that the recipe for being a good Ryder Cup captain isn’t necessarily that complicated, and that making sure that players are relaxed, comfortable and free from as many obligations as possible are the most necessary traits.

“Just take everything off your plate,” he responded. “Player pictures and certain mandatory things that you have to do. But in terms of sort of the nicknacky stuff, just try and take away as much as possible for the player.

“For me, my obligations, I’m doing media right now, and I only have one other thing that’s like 15 minutes this week. But Monday and Tuesday I’m pretty much practising all day and training when I need to and seeing my physio when I need to and all those things.

“When you get to the team things, it’s the same for both teams, don’t get me wrong, but a good captain will try and cut back that stuff as much as possible and make the week as easier as possible.”

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