Zach Johnson is poised to ignore the poor form of Justin Thomas and select the two-time major winner for the US Ryder Cup team.
Johnson names his six wildcards on Tuesday, with much focus on whether Thomas – whose missed cuts at the US Open and Open Championship featured rounds of more than 80 – will get the nod.
At Royal Liverpool, Thomas admitted he was at a loss to explain his performance. Thomas subsequently missed out on the PGA Tour’s end-of-season playoffs. However, Johnson is likely to bank on Thomas’s experience and influence by handing the 30-year-old a huge vote of confidence just weeks from the meeting with Europe in Rome. Thomas took two and a half points from four matches as the US routed Europe at Whistling Straits in 2021.
Brooks Koepka’s defection to LIV Golf has also created chatter but his tie for second at the Masters and win at the US PGA Championship will see him given a Ryder Cup berth. Koepka only narrowly missed out on making the US team automatically and remains popular with fellow players.
Jordan Spieth, Rickie Fowler and Collin Morikawa are also understood to be among Johnson’s certainties. He has a late decision to make over the final pick with Sam Burns, Keegan Bradley, Cameron Young and Tony Finau in contention. Burns may be the narrow favourite among that group, partly through closeness to the world No 1 Scottie Scheffler. Burns and Bradley were among those to tie ninth at the Tour Championship on Sunday. Scheffler, Wyndham Clark, Brian Harman, Patrick Cantlay, Max Homa and Xander Schauffele filled the automatic US berths.
Luke Donald will name his half-dozen captain’s picks for Europe next Monday. Rory McIlroy, Jon Rahm, Viktor Hovland and Tyrrell Hatton have already qualified automatically. Tommy Fleetwood, Matt Fitzpatrick and Sepp Straka are certainties to be in Rome, even if requiring of a pick from Donald. Robert MacIntyre will look to secure his Ryder Cup debut in the final European qualifying event, the European Masters, which starts on Thursday.