It’s Decision Time for U.S. Ryder Cup Captain Zach Johnson, and It Doesn’t Look Easy

Here’s our best guess at who makes the U.S. Ryder Cup team and who gets snubbed

It is possible the decision is easier than it appears. Zach Johnson might very well have the exact pieces he wants to fill out his U.S. Ryder Cup team roster, leaving the rest of us to overanalyze the situation.

Scottie Scheffler, Wyndham Clark, Brian Harman, Patrick Cantlay, Max Homa, and Xander Schauffele are the automatic qualifiers for the Americans, having qualified through the BMW Championship.

Here’s a look at the players—in order of the final points finish—and some guesses as to who might be in Rome next month.

U.S. Ryder Cup Captain’s Picks: Contenders

The reigning PGA Championship winner, who tied for second at the Masters and has Ryder Cup experience, should not be in doubt. But the political infighting due to LIV Golf leads to the possibility that Koepka is left off the team. The guess here is that Johnson wants to avoid that negativity and knows that Koepka will be an asset.

Ranked 12th in the Official World Golf Ranking and 15th in the Sports Illustrated World Golf Rankings, Spieth is a virtual lock, at least according to several sportsbooks that have him off the board. His experience—and the fact that he’s been a good partner to another possible pick, Justin Thomas—and finishing eighth in points is more evidence. If you want to look for negatives, Spieth barely qualified for the Tour Championship, didn’t have a great week in Atlanta, and hasn’t had a top-five since the Memorial. But do you skip the 12th-ranked player who was eighth in points? The guess here is Spieth is on the team.

The reigning PGA Tour rookie of the year contended at the British Open again but has yet to win on Tour and has just six top-10 finishes in 2023. An excellent ball striker, his putting woes mirror some others on the team, which is why he is a risky pick. It’s possible that Johnson sees a role for such a solid player. And it’s tough to pass on No. 9. But the guess here is that Young gets left out.

A two-time major champion who has failed to win in each of the past two seasons, Morikawa is difficult to leave off the team based on his excellent ball-striking ability. He went 2-1 last year at the Presidents Cup and 3-0-1 at the 2021 Ryder Cup. The guess here is that Morikawa gets a pick.

A two-time winner this season, Keegs hasn’t played in the Ryder Cup since 2014, and both of his team experiences were losses. But he’s viewed as the kind of fiery competitor that the U.S. team can use, and his putting has improved immensely. Since winning the Travelers Championship, he had not placed in the top 20 until the Tour Championship. Whether that is enough is up for debate. The guess here is that Bradley is a surprise pick.

His victory at the Rocket Mortgage Classic—against Morikawa in a playoff—was one of the field-good stories of the year after more than four years without winning. But is that enough to get a Ryder Cup pick? His experience and overall good-guy vibe, along with being a solid putter, are assets. But he’s just 3-7-5 in four Ryder Cup appearances. And while he was trending well ahead of his victory this summer, he’s cooled off since. Another tough call. The guess here is yes.

A difficult decision that promises to be controversial if Thomas gets picked. He’s missed the cut in three major championships, shooting in the 80s in two of them. He failed to qualify for the FedEx Cup playoffs, finishing 71st. He’s also had just one top-five finish all year. But this is where having all the picks allows for intangibles, gut feelings, or pairings. Thomas is 6-2-1 in his two Ryder Cups, including 4-1 in Paris in 2018. He’s been a team leader at the Presidents Cup as well. And he’s the type of player who can get under an opponent’s skin. And let’s not forget, Tiger Woods has some influence behind the scenes. Woods and Thomas are buddies. You know Thomas will be ready. The guess here is yes

Notable Others

Certainly, there are others to consider. Sam Burns: He seemed a lock after winning the WGC Match Play in March, but Burns has not done much since that time, and his record at last year’s Presidents Cup—0-3-2—is nothing to get excited about either. But he’s good friends with Scottie Scheffler, and how much influence does the No. 1 player yield? They went 0-1-2 as teammates at the Presidents Cup, which at least means they have experience playing together. This is a tough call. The guess here is no. Denny McCarthy: He’s 14th in points and had a playoff loss to Viktor Hovland at the Memorial. It’s probably not enough for a player who’s never won and never played in a Ryder Cup or Presidents Cup. He’s had a solid year and shown plenty of promise, but there are too many other choices. The guess here is no. Lucas Glover has won twice lately and is a popular player who’d get along with anyone and could be a good partner for several players. Tony Finau somehow is just 21st in points despite a victory earlier this year and has been a member of several Ryder Cup and Presidents Cup teams. Dustin Johnson, who plays for LIV Golf, went 5–0 two years ago. Bryson DeChambeau, who also plays for LIV, is intriguing given his length.

There are numerous directions Zach can go. The good news is that we will get the answers today!

I have gone over and over it, back and forth… BUT – Here’s my final roll call on the U.S. side: Keep in mind It’s 4 a.m. and I am sleep-deprived…

Automatically qualified: Scottie Scheffler, Wyndham Clark, Brian Harman, Patrick Cantlay, Max Homa, and Xander Schauffele
Easy Captain’s Picks: Brooks Koepka, Jordan Spieth, and Collin Morikawa
Harder, but Still Definite Captain’s Picks: Justin Thomas, Rickie Fowler
Last Man In: Keegan Bradley in a surprise upset pick
First Man Out: Sam Burns or Cam Young Too Close to Call, but I believe both will be watching on TV
Close, but No Cigar: Lucas Glover, Denny McCarthy, Tony Finau, DJ

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