United States captain Zach Johnson has selected out-of-form Justin Thomas and LIV Golf rebel Brooks Koepka for the 44th Ryder Cup in Rome at the Marco Simone Golf and Country Club.
Five-time major winner Jordan Spieth, Collin Morikawa, Sam Burns and Rickie Fowler complete the US captain’s six picks to join automatic qualifiers Scottie Scheffler, Open Champion Brian Harman, US Open winner Wyndham Clark, Max Homa, Patrick Cantlay and Xander Schuaffele.
Thomas failed to qualify for the FedEx Cup play-offs and admitted it had been “humiliating and embarrassing” to card a second round of 81 in the US Open in June.
The two-time major winner also carded an opening 82 in the Open at Royal Liverpool, but has still been selected by Johnson ahead of the likes of Keegan Bradley and Cameron Young.
When are the Ryder Cup teams announced?
Johnson has now unveiled his full USA team, while Team Europe is due to be announced on September 4.
Who is on Team Europe?
Along with his appointed vice-captains, Francesco Molinari, Edoardo Molinari, José María Olazábal, Thomas Bjorn and Nicolas Colsaerts, Donald has some big decisions to make.
However, he can rest easy that the spine of his team is already locked in. Rory McIlroy, John Rahm, Tyrrell Hatton and Viktor Hovland – all of whom are in the top five in the world – are the three names already confirmed for Team Europe.
The three remaining automatic qualification spots are currently occupied by Robert MacIntyre and Tommy Fleetwood going into the Omega European Masters, the final event at which Ryder Cup points are available.
Former US Open winner Matt Fitzpatrick and 2019 Open champion Shane Lowry will surely feature as two of Donald’s captain’s picks, leaving four more spots to be filled.
Yannick Paul, Adrian Meronk, Rasmus Hojgaard, Victor Perez, Justin Rose, Seamus Power, Sepp Straka and Padraig Harrington are all in the running.
Ryder Cup legends Sergio Garcia, Ian Poulter and Lee Westwood will be taking no part, with Team Europe opting not to select LIV Golf players.
Who is on Team USA?
As at Whistling Straits two years ago, Team USA has a formidable look to it.
The six automatic spots in Zach Johnson’s 12-man team are already confirmed with world No 1 Scottie Scheffler, US Open champion Wyndham Clark and Open champion Brian Harman already on the plane. Joining them are Patrick Cantlay, Xander Schauffele and Max Homa.
Johnson’s wildcard selections are Jordan Spieth, Rickie Fowler, Justin Thomas, Brooks Koepka, Collin Morikawa and Sam Burns.
What is Luke Donald saying?
Donald was installed as Europe’s captain after Henrik Stenson’s defection to LIV but the Englishman boasts an impressive Ryder Cup record as a part of four winning teams.
“We’re still carrying that hurt from two years ago and it’s about giving them a clear plan about how we can succeed and why we can succeed. I also want to put them in the right frame of mind and make them believe that once they step on that first tee on Friday that they have a great opportunity to win.
“We’re looking at how can we pair best with the six which are already qualified automatically,” Donald said. “I think there are lots of various factors. I’m very detail-oriented and I like to think things through. If someone asks me a question I’m not going to just blurt an answer back to you straightaway. I like a chance to consume everything and get all of the information that I have and then make the best choice.
“With the six picks, there are a variety of things that I’m looking at-that’s one of the reasons why we did have six-we didn’t want to get into a situation where the nine or ten automatic qualifiers may have played really well six months ago but their form really dipped off since.”
“I think the Ryder Cup for him is super important, to follow in the legacy of some of his heroes. Jose Maria [Olazabal], obviously Seve [Ballesteros], and even Sergio [Garcia]. Those guys have paved their way through and made a big legacy in their history that’s really tied to the Ryder Cup.
“He understands that. He wants to do it individually but he wants to through the Ryder Cup as well. So I think you’ll see a lot of passion.You’ll see him very focused during the week and that will help some of the rookies and some of the guys that maybe who’ve only been there once will see that, will see that passion and he will be a big motivator for the other players because of that.”
What is Zach Johnson saying?
Team USA will attempt to win on European soil for the first time since 1993 and Johnson concluded Thomas’s experience was key to him overlooking his current form and picking him.
“Justin Thomas is one of the talented golfers on the PGA Tour in my opinion. He has been without question the heart and soul of Team USA. He has been our emotional leader, he just leads by example.
“Overall he has a fantastic Ryder Cup record. In my mind he was born for this and in my mind you just don’t leave JT at home.”
Koepka, who lifted the PGA Championship this year, is the only golfer on the LIV circuit to be selected with Bryson DeChambeau, Talor Gooch and Dustin Johnson being overlooked by Johnson.
“He is built for the biggest stages and there is no bigger stage in world golf than the Ryder Cup,” said Johnson about picking Koepka.. “His buddies want him on the team and he is very versatile, guys want to play with him and I am excited to have him with us at Marco Simone.”
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