Morikawa And Bradley Lead Tour Championship But Can't Escape Ryder Cup Talk

Keegan Bradley and Collin Morikawa could not escape talk of making the Ryder Cup team after they grabbed a share of the Tour Championship lead

Collin Morikawa at the 2023 Tour Championship
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Keegan Bradley and Collin Morikawa both made sparkling starts to grab a share of the first-round lead of the Tour Championship, with both also having one eye on securing Ryder Cup spots.

Morikawa and Bradley finished 10th and 11th in Team USA qualifying, but shot 61 and 63 respectively to both sit on 10 under alongside Viktor Hovland at the top of the East Lake leaderboard.

The pair firmly have their eyes on the FedEx Cup title and whopping $18m payday, but they can't escape the fact it's their last chance to impress Zach Johnson before he makes his six captain's picks.

And just in case it did slip their minds, Bradley says the East Lake fans were quick to remind him.

"I try my hardest to not think of the Ryder Cup, but everybody asks me about it," said Bradley after his first round. 

"And as I'm walking down the fairways everyone's yelling to me about it. So it's impossible for me to not think about it. 

"I got to think, a two-year qualifying process, with the tournament a month away, I don't think everything is based on this tournament. But it might be. So, better to go play well than to not. 

"I mean, they know how much I want to be on the team. But I know Rickie (Fowler, his playing partner) wants to be on the team just as bad as I do. Whoever is looking to get picked."

Keegan Bradley at the 2023 Tour Championship

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Morikawa says he hasn't spoken to Johnson for a while but is hopeful that being 10th in the standings, coupled with a good week in Atlanta, can help seal the deal. 

"No, I haven't talked to him," Morikawa said of Johnson. "The last time I really spent a lot of time with him was at Detroit. 

"Look, I had two years to get myself in that top six and we didn't do it. So it is what it is. I was still grinding out there. We still ended up roughly in that zone of hopefully a captain's pick. 

"But, look, I think, hopefully, my record speaks for itself. Hopefully the golf speaks for itself today. 

"I feel good but, look, at the end of the day, I want to win this tournament. I really do. It's been too long. I want to find a way to win. Today definitely helped that."

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.