Bradley Boosts Hopes Of Ryder Cup Return But Adds To Johnson's Selection Issues

Keegan Bradley is on the verge of the automatic Ryder Cup qualification spots, but could his resurgence just add to Zach Johnson's problems?

Keegan Bradley at the 2012 Ryder Cup
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Keegan Bradley says he’s “still got a lot to show the captain” after his home victory at the Travelers Championship catapulted him right into the thick of the race for the automatic spots in the Team USA Ryder Cup standings.

Bradley’s second win of the wraparound PGA Tour season vaulted him up 13 places in the Ryder Cup standings into seventh place – just one outside of the top six that get automatic places on Zach Johnson’s team for Rome.

The 37-year-old also rose up into No.18 in the Official World Golf Ranking (OWGR), which is his highest mark since 2014 – the year he made his second Ryder Cup appearance in his last outing for Team USA in any team event.

And Bradley is determined to get back onto Team USA as they look to win on European soil for the first time in 30 years – turning his attention to it immediately after his Travelers win.

"It is the first thing I said to my wife walking up to sign my card: This is a pretty big step towards (Ryder Cup qualification)," said Bradley after winning the Travelers.

"I'm 37 years old. I hope to play in multiple more. I don't know how many more with everybody so good and the younger kids, just the team is incredible."

The 2011 PGA Championship winner’s resurgence offers Johnson yet another option, but in a way adds to his selection headache with so many players pushing for inclusion.

Johnson already has the LIV Golf scenario to deal with – Brooks Koepka looks pretty safe in the third automatic spot, with a strong finish at the Open probably tying up his place, while Scottie Scheffler and Wyndham Clark also look locked in.

It’s a scramble for the other three automatic spots though and the six captain’s picks could be tricky with Dustin Johnson wanting to play and having that brilliant perfect record at Whistling Straits in 2021 – he’d be tough to leave out.

Phil Mickelson and Keegan Bradley had a perfect record at the 2012 Ryder Cup

(Image credit: Getty Images)

You could also throw in Bryson DeChambeau and Patrick Reed from LIV Golf, while among those currently outside of the automatic spots are Jordan Spieth, Justin Thomas, Collin Morikawa, Rickie Fowler, Tony Finau, Cameron Young and Sam Burns.

Bradley wouldn’t have been too high up on Johnson’s list for wildcards, but if he continues his form and manages to qualify or just falls short, he’ll have to also be thrown into what is a crowded mix for places.

Bradley has had mixed experiences in his two Ryder Cups, making a huge splash in 2012 despite the Americans suffering that huge upset defeat in the Miracle of Medinah comeback by Europe.

A splendid partnership with Phil Mickelson saw them win all three of their matches, before Bradley lost to Rory McIlroy in that epic Sunday singles.

Qualifying for 2012, Bradley was then a wildcard pick for captain Tom Watson at Gleneagles in 2014, where he went 1-2 and lost the decisive singles match against Jamie Donaldson – so he’ll be keen to get back in the side to put that record straight.

Paul Higham

Paul Higham is a sports journalist with over 20 years of experience in covering most major sporting events for both Sky Sports and BBC Sport. He is currently freelance and covers the golf majors on the BBC Sport website.  Highlights over the years include covering that epic Monday finish in the Ryder Cup at Celtic Manor and watching Rory McIlroy produce one of the most dominant Major wins at the 2011 US Open at Congressional. He also writes betting previews and still feels strangely proud of backing Danny Willett when he won the Masters in 2016 - Willett also praised his putting stroke during a media event before the Open at Hoylake. Favourite interviews he's conducted have been with McIlroy, Paul McGinley, Thomas Bjorn, Rickie Fowler and the enigma that is Victor Dubuisson. A big fan of watching any golf from any tour, sadly he spends more time writing about golf than playing these days with two young children, and as a big fair weather golfer claims playing in shorts is worth at least five shots. Being from Liverpool he loves the likes of Hoylake, Birkdale and the stretch of tracks along England's Golf Coast, but would say his favourite courses played are Kingsbarns and Portrush.