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Zach Johnson sets U.S. Ryder Cup roster, reveals captain's picks

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Zach Johnson sets U.S. Ryder Cup roster, reveals captain's picks

    Written by Paul Hodowanic @PaulHodowanic

    The United States Ryder Cup Team is set.

    Sam Burns, Rickie Fowler, Brooks Koepka, Collin Morikawa, Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas were announced as the team’s six captain’s picks to round out the roster that will face Team Europe next month at Marco Simone Golf & Country Club in Guidonia Montecelio near Rome. Captain Zach Johnson revealed the picks Tuesday at the PGA of America headquarters in Frisco, Texas.

    They join the six automatic qualifiers – Scottie Scheffler, Wyndham Clark, Brian Harman, Patrick Cantlay, Max Homa and Xander Schauffele – who accumulated the most Ryder Cup points over the last two years.

    The U.S. Team will travel to Rome hoping to win a Ryder Cup on European soil for the first time since 1993. It will do so with an evident emphasis on experience. While three automatic qualifiers (Clark, Harman and Homa) will make their Ryder Cup debut, Burns is the only captain’s pick that has not appeared in the event. The other five captain’s picks have a combined 14 Ryder Cup appearances with a 25-21-11 record.

    Thomas is the lone team member who failed to make the FedExCup Playoffs. The 15-time TOUR winner has had a disappointing 2022-23 season, to his standards, but has been one of the top-performing Americans in each of the last several team events. He is also one of the key leaders inside the locker room. “In my mind, he was born for this,” Johnson said regarding Thomas. “You don’t just leave JT at home. …He is without question the heart and soul of (the U.S. Team). Our emotional leader.” Thomas finished 15th in the Ryder Cup Points List, the lowest of any of the captain’s picks.

    Fowler returns to the team after missing the previous two Ryder Cups. Koepka, Morikawa, Spieth and Thomas were part of the U.S. team’s record 19-9 victory over Team Europe at Whistling Straits in 2021.

    Among the players to narrowly miss out on a captain’s pick are Keegan Bradley, Lucas Glover and Cameron Young.

    The six automatic qualifiers for the European Team will be finalized following the conclusion of the DP World Tour’s Omega European Masters on Sept. 3. European captain Luke Donald will announce his six captain’s picks on Sept. 4. 

    Here’s a look at the 12 golfers on the U.S. Team:

    Scottie Scheffler

    FedExCup rank: T6
    Official World Golf Ranking: 1st
    Ryder Cup Points List rank: 1st
    Ryder Cup record: 2-0-1

    The last man selected for the 2021 Ryder Cup was the first to qualify for this iteration. Scheffler became a household name with his performance at Whistling Straits, where he beat Jon Rahm in Sunday Singles to cap off a successful week. He followed up by winning his first TOUR event less than six months later at the 2022 WM Phoenix Open.

    He’s added five more wins since, including the 2022 Masters and the 2023 PLAYERS Championship.

    Best finish 2022-23: two wins (WM Phoenix Open, THE PLAYERS Championship); 17 top 10s, 22/22 cuts made

    Wyndham Clark

    FedExCup rank: 3
    Official World Golf Ranking: 10th
    Ryder Cup Points List rank: 2nd
    Ryder Cup record: Rookie

    Clark’s breakout 2023 campaign is rewarded with his first Ryder Cup appearance. The 35-year-old made a massive jump in his sixth year on the PGA TOUR, grabbing his first TOUR win at the Wells Fargo Championship in May and following it with his first major championship title at the U.S. Open in June.

    Best finish in 2022-23; two wins (Wells Fargo Championship, U.S. Open); eight top 10s; 24/27 cuts made

    Brian Harman

    FedExCup rank: 23
    Official World Golf Ranking: 9th
    Ryder Cup Points List rank: 3rd
    Ryder Cup record: Rookie

    Another Ryder Cup first-timer, Harman’s disposition and mentality are akin to a team-event veteran. He was unflappable in his six-shot Open Championship victory at Royal Liverpool and followed it up with another nice finish at the BMW Championship (T5). Harman’s accuracy off the tee and gusto with the putter should make him a malleable teammate in Rome.

    Best finish in 2022-23: win (The Open Championship); seven top 10s; 18/26 cuts made

    Patrick Cantlay

    FedExCup rank: 5
    Official World Golf Ranking: 5th
    Ryder Cup Points List rank: 4th
    Ryder Cup record: 3-0-1

    Cantlay is one of three Americans who made their Ryder Cup debut at Whistling Straits in 2021 and will play again in Rome.

    But a Ryder Cup on the road is much different: History would say the dominance that the U.S. Team showed in Wisconsin is almost bound to regress. Cantlay earned points in all four matches in his Ryder Cup debut, and he’ll likely be paired again with Xander Schauffele. Those two have been nearly untouchable in team events. Will that momentum hold up in a hostile environment?

    Best finish in 2022-23: second (Shriners Children’s Open, FedEx St. Jude Championship); 10 top 10s; 18/20 cuts made

    Max Homa

    FedExCup rank: T9
    Official World Golf Ranking: 7th
    Ryder Cup Points List rank: 5th
    Ryder Cup record: Rookie

    One of the breakout stars of the 2022 Presidents Cup at Quail Hollow Club in Charlotte, N.C., Homa takes an undefeated team-event record into his first Ryder Cup appearance. Homa called his experience at the Presidents Cup, where he went 4-0-0, “the best week I could ever imagine.” He’s in store for another bucket list week in Rome. He’ll do it in good form, too. He’s carded six straight top-12 finishes to end the season.

    Best finish in 2022-23: two wins (Fortinet Championship, Farmers Insurance Open); 12 top 10s, 19/23 cuts made

    Xander Schauffele

    FedExCup rank: 2
    Official World Golf Ranking: 6th
    Ryder Cup Points List rank: 6th
    Ryder Cup record: 3-1-0

    The 29-year-old Schauffele clinched the winning points in the 2022 Presidents Cup and has become one of the most reliable Americans in recent national team appearances. He’s 9-4-0 in his national team career overall, but like Cantlay, faces his first Ryder Cup on European soil.

    Schauffele, who won Olympic gold in Tokyo in 2021, wouldn’t seem to be one to care much about that history, but 30 years without a victory for the U.S. Team on foreign soil is hard to ignore.

    Best finish in 2022-23: second (Wells Fargo Championship), 11 top 10s, 21/21 cuts made

    Sam Burns

    FedExCup rank: T9
    Official World Golf Ranking: 21st
    Ryder Cup Points List rank: 12th
    Ryder Cup record: Rookie

    Burns won the lone match-play event on the PGA TOUR calendar, beating Cameron Young in the championship match at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play in March. It’s been a somewhat inconsistent season from there, though. Burns’ T6 at the Charles Schwab Challenge and his T9 at the TOUR Championship were his only top-10 finishes since his win in Austin. This will mark Burns’ first Ryder Cup appearance, and he went 0-3-2 at the Presidents Cup last year.

    "You watch every Ryder Cup and you always, you know, have this idea in the back of your head that you want to be a part of that and you want to get to experience that one day,” Burns said. “So it's very very surreal."

    Best finish in 2022-23: win (WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play); six top 10s, 18/24 cuts made

    Sam Burns’ winning highlights from WGC-Dell Match Play

    Rickie Fowler

    FedExCup rank: T16
    Official World Golf Ranking: 25th
    Ryder Cup Points List rank: 13th
    Ryder Cup record: 3-7-5

    Fowler’s win at the Rocket Mortgage Classic in July marked his first PGA TOUR victory in four years. He will play on his first national team in that same span.

    A mainstay of American team events in the 2010s, Fowler was missing from the last two Presidents Cups and the Americans’ 2021 Ryder Cup rout in Wisconsin. While Fowler’s record leaves something to be desired, his experience and rejuvenated form should be assets for the U.S. Team in Rome.

    “After the last few years for me, not just not being a part of team, not really being in majors and not playing well … I knew it was going to be tough one to achieve,” Fowler said. “This one is super special. When I got the call from Zach, and luckily he told me, I was definitely emotional.”

    Best finish 2022-23: win (Rocket Mortgage Classic); eight top 10s; 22/24 made cuts

    Rickie Fowler’s winning highlights from Rocket Mortgage Classic

    Brooks Koepka

    FedExCup rank: N/A
    Official World Golf Ranking: 14th
    Ryder Cup Points List rank: 7th
    Ryder Cup record: 6-5-1

    Koepka narrowly missed out on an automatic qualifying spot but nonetheless earned a spot on this year’s team. It marks his fourth Ryder Cup appearance (2016, 2018, 2021). Koepka’s five major championship titles are the most of any in this year’s Ryder Cup – and his propensity to rise to the occasion in the game’s biggest events bodes well. He’s 5-3-0 in U.S.-hosted Ryder Cups, while he went 1-2-1 in his lone European appearance in France in 2018.

    “You don’t want to let the other guys in the team down and it’s a fun event,” Keopka said. “I mean, it’s – I think – the most nervous I have ever been as a golfer.”

    Best finishes in 2022-23: win (PGA Championship), T2 (Masters Tournament)

    Brooks Koepka pars the last to win at the PGA Championship

    Collin Morikawa

    FedExCup rank: T6
    Official World Golf Ranking: 19th
    Ryder Cup Points List rank: 10th
    Ryder Cup record: 3-0-1

    Morikawa, 26, will make his third national team appearance. He’s lost just one match in his prior two experiences (2021 Ryder Cup, 2022 Presidents Cup) and won 3.5 points for the U.S. Team at Whistling Straits. He finished T6 at the TOUR Championship.

    “We all want to win,” Morikawa said. “You know, we know the history. That’s all the past. We want to create new memories. We want to create new history.”

    Best finish: second (Sentry Tournament of Champions, Rocket Mortgage Classic); six top 10s; 17/23 cuts made

    Collin Morikawa's top 25 shots on the PGA TOUR

    Jordan Spieth

    FedExCup rank: 27
    Official World Golf Ranking: 12th
    Ryder Cup Points List rank: 8th
    Ryder Cup record: 8-7-3

    We’ve entered the “elder statesman” era for Spieth, even if he is only 30 years old. Spieth has the most Ryder Cup experience of anyone on the U.S. side (four – 2014, 2016, 2018, 2021), and with it comes plenty of baggage from European Ryder Cups past.

    The sun had hardly set on the Americans’ record 19-9 victory at Whistling Straits in 2021, and Spieth was already thinking about repeating in Rome.

    "It's one thing to win it over here – and it is a lot easier to do so – and it is harder to win over there,” he said on that September Sunday night.

    Best finish: second (RBC Heritage); seven top 10s; 15/21 cuts made

    Top 30 shots of Jordan Spieth’s career

    Justin Thomas

    FedExCup rank: 71st
    Official World Golf Ranking: 26th
    Ryder Cup Points List rank: 15th
    Ryder Cup record: 6-2-1

    A stalwart of previous American team events, Thomas’ position on this iteration of the team was in doubt after an uncharacteristically poor 2022-23 season. Thomas missed the FedExCup Playoffs and went winless for the first time in his career. Still, his experience and leadership won out in Johnson’s mind. This is the sixth consecutive team event Thomas will participate in dating back to the 2017 Presidents Cup.

    “I’m very, very happy to be here, but it’s I mean, it’s exciting,” Thomas said. “It’s a type of nerves that I don’t think you can really put into words.”

    Best finish in 2022-23: solo fourth at WM Phoenix Open; three top 10s; 14/20 cuts made

    'This is why I play' Justin Thomas on overcoming challenges in 2022-23 season

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