MAKE YOUR CASE: U.S. RYDER CUP CANDIDATES
U.S. Ryder Cup Captain Zach Johnson already knows half of his 12-man roster for next month’s Ryder Cup in Rome. But what about the other six spots?
Johnson will round out the U.S. Team, which already includes automatic qualifiers Scottie Scheffler, Wyndham Clark, Brian Harman, Patrick Cantlay, Max Homa and Xander Schauffele, by announcing his six Captain’s picks on Aug. 28, the day after the Tour Championship ends.
Here's a look at some of Johnson’s potential candidates and why they could get his call:
Brooks Koepka (Ryder Cup points rank: 7th)
The fact that Koepka missed automatically qualifying by just 29 points is impressive considering he played just eight qualifying events (all majors) since making his last PGA Tour start at the 2022 WGC-Dell Match Play. Koepka also has three Ryder Cup appearances under his belt, two of them producing wins. However, the first man out in qualifying not being tabbed as a pick is not unprecedented; it happened four straight Ryder Cups from 2010 to 2016. That being said, several U.S. Team members, including Scheffler and Harman, voiced their support for Koepka making the Team earlier this week at East Lake.
Jordan Spieth (Ryder Cup points rank: 8th)
If you listen to U.S. Vice Captain Fred Couples’ radio show, you’d know that Spieth, a four-time Ryder Cupper, is already a lock to make his fifth appearance for the U.S. Team. Though Spieth has missed four of his past nine cuts, he also boasts four finishes of T-6 or better since he tied for fourth at the Masters. He also is Jordan Spieth, and we all know what Jordan Spieth can do in these Ryder Cup arenas.
Cameron Young (Ryder Cup points rank: 9th)
Like Spieth, Young was another one of those locks that Couples let slip on air. Sure, Young has yet to win on the PGA Tour and he owns just two top-10s since the Masters ended, but he was recently T-8 at The Open, finished runner-up at the Match Play and not many players in the world have the ball-striking firepower that he does. Plus, he got his first Presidents Cup out of the way last year, going 1-2-1, so while he’d be a Ryder Cup rookie, he’s not totally devoid of team experience.
Collin Morikawa (Ryder Cup points rank: 10th)
For starters, he went 3-0-1 in his Ryder Cup debut two years ago at Whistling Straits, and his style of play probably sets up even better for an away Ryder Cup. Also, for all this talk about Morikawa slumping, he’s still second on the PGA Tour in strokes gained approach and fourth tee to green, and he’s cracked the top 15 in half of his past six events, including a playoff loss to Rickie Fowler in Detroit. Oh, and he was tied for the lead at the Tour Championship through 36 holes.
Keegan Bradley (Ryder Cup points rank: 11th)
Grabbed a huge amount of his points with wins at last fall’s Zozo Championship and this year’s Travelers Championship, plus his solo second at the Farmers Insurance Open. He’s tailed off a bit in recent starts since Travelers, but top-40 ball-strikers and putters don’t grow on trees, and few guys would likely be as pumped up as Bradley should he make his first U.S. Team since 2014. He’s already showing it with a strong push at East Lake (solo third through 36 holes).
Sam Burns (Ryder Cup points rank: 12th)
Who cares if his Presidents Cup debut, where he played all five sessions at Quail Hollow and failed to earn a full point, didn’t go so well? Burns is still young (27), a strong putter (11th in strokes gained putting), and he did win the WGC-Dell Match Play. His credentials aren’t as strong, especially recently, as the guys ahead of him, but he definitely deserves a close look to make the Team.
Rickie Fowler (Ryder Cup points rank: 13th)
Fowler has cooled off since his hot start to the summer, but with four Ryder Cups under his belt and his popularity among his potential teammates, Fowler figures to be a good bet to make another U.S. Team. Make no mistake, though, his summer run that included top-13s at Colonial, Memorial and Travelers, a T-5 at the U.S. Open and win at the Rocket Mortgage Classic will be the main reason he gets one of Johnson’s picks should he get that call.
Justin Thomas (Ryder Cup points rank: 15th)
It’s been a while since we’ve heard from Thomas as his last-ditch effort to make the FedExCup Playoffs fell a couple shots shy at Wyndham. Going solely based on this season’s play, Thomas, who is 40th in total strokes gained on Tour and boasts just three top-10s since the season began last fall, is sitting this Ryder Cup out. But remember, Thomas is 6-2-1 in his two previous Ryder Cup appearances, and he’s 4-2 when paired with Spieth. That stuff matters, especially when the Captain is rounding out his roster.
Tony Finau (Ryder Cup points rank: 21st)
OK, so Finau is well down the points list, but hear me out: He’s won twice this season, though neither were designated events, meaning Finau didn’t get as many Ryder Cup points, which are based off money earned, as some other contenders to make the U.S. Team. He also made it to East Lake, so it’s not like he’s struggled this season. With a decent number of rookies on the squad, Finau, with two Ryder Cups under his belt, should still be in consideration despite his position in points.