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Rory McIlroy says he was left in “disbelief” by the USA’s decision to make Keegan Bradley its new Ryder Cup captain.

Bradley, 38, was named as the man to lead the United States into next year’s match at Bethpage on Monday after Tiger Woods turned down the chance.

The 2011 PGA champion becomes the youngest captain of the side in over 60 years and succeeds Zach Johnson despite having never tasted success in the match.

His appointment has been warmly received by several of his compatriots and likely team members and, speaking after opening his Genesis Scottish Open title defence with a 65, European talisman McIlroy shared his own perspective.

• Why Keegan Bradley’s appointment might just be a masterstroke

• Keegan Bradley addresses the Ryder Cup elephant in the room

“I think it has come as a surprise for everyone,” said the four-time major champion. “We had dinner in London on Sunday night with Luke [Donald, the European captain], and he told us then.

“Its’ an interesting appointment. The youngest captain since Arnold Palmer I think was a playing captain as 34. But he knows Bethpage very well. He went to university in the area. He’s obviously very passionate about the Ryder Cup.

‘It’s certainly a departure from what the US have done over the last few years, and time will tell if that’s a good thing or not.”

McIlroy and several other European Ryder Cuppers were at the dinner with Donald. Asked what the reaction in the room was to Donald’s news about Bradley, he added: “I think disbelief, probably. I think Keegan was probably in disbelief, at some point, too, but it’s certainly an interesting pick.”

• Rickie Fowler backs Keegan Bradley for player-captain role

• Robert MacIntyre makes big change after PGA Tour success

McIlroy’s 65 was his first competitive round since his now infamous US Open collapse last month and he insists he is already over that heartbreak.

“I’m not going to let three or four holes cloud my judgment in terms of how good I’m playing,” he added. “I knew to play the golf that I did the whole way through June, it wasn’t just the US Open. I played well at the Canadian Open and at Memorial before that even and PGA and Quail Hollow. My game has been in good shape and it was in good shape coming in here.

“It’s just a matter of going out there and focusing on the task at hand and not letting your mind wander too much. I felt like I did a good job of that today.”

author headshot

Michael McEwan is the Deputy Editor of bunkered and has been part of the team since 2004. In that time, he has interviewed almost every major figure within the sport, from Jack Nicklaus, to Rory McIlroy, to Donald Trump. The host of the multi award-winning bunkered Podcast and a member of Balfron Golfing Society, Michael is the author of three books and is the 2023 PPA Scotland 'Writer of the Year' and 'Columnist of the Year'. Dislikes white belts, yellow balls and iron headcovers. Likes being drawn out of the media ballot to play Augusta National.

Deputy Editor

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