Was Keegan Bradley A Victim Of 'Boys Club' Ryder Cup Picks?

Ryder Cup vice-captain Fred Couples hints at "20 percent" of the decision to leave Keegan Bradley being due to him "not being tight" with some of the team

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

Keegan Bradley can feel particularly hard done by after missing out on a Ryder Cup spot, especially with vice-captain Fred Couples now admitting that the decision was at least in part a personal one.

Bradley had an outstanding two-win season and with Ryder Cup experience under his belt had a really strong case for a wildcard.

After missing out, he said he was left feeling like "an outsider" from the USA team core, with the likes of Jordan Spieth, Justin Thomas and Rickie Fowler all selected.

“I’ve always been an outsider in the sport but I have tried to get closer to the guys I thought would be on the team," said Bradley after missing out.

The picks have led to accusations that the USA team is a closed shop “boys club” but while trying to reject the theory Couples did suggest that the senior players did have a say.

“There’s no ‘outside,'” Couples said. “I saw Keegan Bradley’s statement. I left him off the team (as 2011 Presidents Cup captain) when he won a PGA. It’s the harshest thing you can do to a guy.

"I feel like it’s the players’ team, but you can’t have guys telling the captain here’s who I want, should be on it, unless you’re a Jordan Spieth or a Scottie Scheffler, or a Cantlay.”

Sam Burns, who got a pick, is a close friend with Scheffler and they're seen like a natural pairing, and it's those types of relationships that seem to have trumped Bradley's form case for selection.

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And while insisting that wildcard selections were done with pairings in mind, Couples admitted that personal relationships, or lack of in Bradley's case, was at least part of the consideration.

“Now they’re picking other guys that may not have the record of Keegan, but they pair them up perfectly,” Couples added.

“I like Keegan. He’s an older guy, and he’s not in tight with them. If that had 20 percent to do with it, I won’t argue that.”

Even having just "20 percent" to do with selection could make all the difference and it's hard not to feel for Bradley, who does in fact seem to have missed out due to not being as close to some of the other players.

Europe's superb recent record of nine wins in 13 Ryder Cups has been put down to the team spirit within the camp, so it's understandable that America are trying to follow that path.

Whether they've taken that too far under Zach Johnson and have fallen into the trap of making is a close shop or 'boys club' remains to be seen.

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.