Sept. 22-28, 2025 Bethpage Black Course, Farmingdale, NY
2023 Ryder Cup - Singles Matches
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EPISODE 6 – ‘Pick Six’

Main Characters

Justin Thomas, Keegan Bradley, Zach Johnson

The PGA Tour season is well underway and Justin Thomas, the two-time PGA Champion, has had a very unusual campaign – especially at the majors.

There is, however, a very important goal that he’s still gunning for.

“I want to make the Ryder Cup more than anything,” Thomas says early on in the episode from home in Florida. The pressure he’s put on himself, he admits, may be higher than in any other year he’s ever had.

The episode jumps to six months prior, at the WM Phoenix Open, where Thomas would go on to finish fourth (turns out that would be his best result of the season). Thomas and his agent are driving to their rental house for the week and talking about taking a scouting trip to Rome. Thomas, to his credit, says they should “pump the brakes” since he knows he has to make the team first.

While Thomas has a solid, if unspectacular, start to 2023 (he finishes inside the top 25 in six of his first seven starts) things go downhill starting at the Masters. Thomas shoots 70-78 to miss the cut. He’d also go on to miss the cut at two of the remaining three majors on the calendar. In his title defense at the PGA Championship, he finishes tied for 65th.

During The Open Championship in Liverpool, however, Thomas stays in a house for the week with Jordan Spieth and Rickie Fowler (who was also looking for a pick for the team) and Ryder Cup captain Zach Johnson. There’s a great scene with the four of them having dinner and Spieth poses the question to Johnson about what percentage of the people “who play professional golf” (as their wives are there, too) would have a chance to make the Ryder Cup team in the fall.

“We didn’t know that (Liverpool dinner) was going to be an interesting scene,” Chad Mumm, one of Full Swing’s executive producer, adds. “We just showed up and filmed.”

After a disappointing summer, Thomas ended up on the outside-looking-in of both the Ryder Cup standings and the FedExCup Playoffs heading into the final stretch of tournaments during the PGA Tour’s regular season. Thomas adds the Wyndham Championship to his schedule, an event he hasn’t played since 2016. He did, however, play it as a 16-year-old (“I’m not sure if I weight 100 pounds soaking wet,” he quips) and made the cut then.

He makes the cut again in 2023 and needs a birdie on his final hole to make the FedExCup Playoffs. After a poor drive he knocks an epic, curving approach from the trees to just in front of the green. He chips it onto the green and it bounces off the flagstick but doesn’t drop. With that miss his season is over. He’ll have to rely on a pick from Johnson to make the team.

“It’s the first time I’ve ever not qualified […] and having to wait on a pick, it sucks,” Thomas admits.

And while Thomas isn’t sure which way things will go based on his poor season, Keegan Bradley is feeling pretty darn good about himself – and he should, on paper at least.

Bradley, who won the PGA Championship in 2011, has played on two Ryder Cups – in 2012 and 2014. He’s been on the losing end for both, though, and in 2014 the cup was lost on his match. He’s still got his Ryder Cup suitcase from there unopened and unpacked in his home.

At 36, Bradley admits the “generation of players” he played Ryder Cups with are mostly gone from the game’s highest level these days (Zach Johnson, the captain, says he even played with Bradley in a Ryder Cup at one point) and he does feel like he’s really on the outside-looking-in as compared to plenty of the younger generation that travel, play, and live close together.

Still, Bradley is having a complete career resurgence in 2023. He won the ZOZO Championship in the fall, and then backed that up with a victory at the Travelers Championship in New England, his hometown event. With a big smile after he signs his scorecard that Sunday he tells his wife, Jillian, to get ready for Rome.

Despite missing the cut at the year’s two final majors – both the U.S. Open and The Open Championship – Bradley ends up 11th in the U.S. points standings and awaits a call from Johnson.

“I’m thinking about the Ryder Cup,” Bradley says, “every second of every day.”

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