The Captain’s Choices
United States Ryder Cup captain Zach Johnson has announced his six wildcard picks for the forthcoming Ryder Cup tournament. Among the chosen are Brooks Koepka, winner of this year’s PGA Championship, and Justin Thomas, a two-time major winner. They will join the team for the match against Europe, set to take place from 29 September to 1 October at the Marco Simone Golf and Country Club near Rome.
The Full US Ryder Cup Team Roster
The wildcard picks also include Sam Burns, Rickie Fowler, Collin Morikawa, and Jordan Spieth. These six players will team up with automatic qualifiers Brian Harman, Wyndham Clark, Max Homa, Scottie Scheffler, Xander Schauffele, and Patrick Cantlay to form the 12-man U.S. team.
Zach Johnson expressed his confidence in the selections, stating, “A lot of time, lot of energy has gone into this process. I’m very confident in these six [picks]. That confidence comes from simply surrounding myself with great people. These are six guys who make the other guys whole.”
Major Winners in the Team
Three of the four major winners in 2023 are part of Johnson’s team for the tournament. Harman clinched The Open, Clark secured the US Open, and Koepka took home the PGA Championship.
The Indispensable Justin Thomas
Despite a challenging year, Justin Thomas, 30, has been selected for his exceptional talent and emotional leadership. “Justin Thomas is one of the most talented players on the PGA Tour in my opinion,” Johnson said. “He has been, without question, the heart and soul of US Ryder Cup teams, our emotional leader. In my mind, he is born for this and you just don’t leave JT at home.”
Thomas himself acknowledged his struggles but expressed gratitude for the opportunity, saying, “You can want something too bad. I’m sure all of us have tried to win golf tournaments too much and have tried to force the issue, and there were potentially times this season I did.”
Koepka’s Unique Position
Koepka, the only player from LIV Golf on the team, faced limitations in earning Ryder Cup qualifying points. The PGA of America did not count LIV Golf events for their rankings. Johnson praised Koepka, stating, “A five-time major champion, he is built in my mind for the biggest of stages and there’s no bigger stage than the Ryder Cup.”
A Streak to Break
The United States holds the Ryder Cup after a record 19-9 victory in Wisconsin in 2021. However, they have not won on European soil for 30 years, their last victory in Europe being at the Belfry in Warwickshire in 1993.
European Team Update
European qualification will conclude on 3 September after the European Masters at Crans-sur-Sierre in Switzerland. Captain Luke Donald will announce the European team on 4 September. Rory McIlroy, Jon Rahm, Viktor Hovland, and Tyrrell Hatton have alread secured their spots.
This Ryder Cup promises to be an exciting showdown, and all eyes will be on the Marco Simone Golf and Country Club come late September.