The captain’s picks are in as the 2023 Ryder Cup approaches, and there were no surprises on the United States side. On Tuesday, captain Zach Johnson added Brooks Koepka, Jordan Spieth, Collin Morikawa, Rickie Fowler, Sam Burns and Justin Thomas to the team which already includes the six automatic qualifiers from earlier in the month.
Below is the full U.S. team roster for the Ryder Cup matches in Rome at the end of September following Tuesday’s announcement.
- Scottie Scheffler
- Patrick Cantlay
- Xander Schauffele
- Brian Harman
- Wyndham Clark
- Max Homa
- Brooks Koepka
- Jordan Spieth
- Collin Morikawa
- Rickie Fowler
- Sam Burns
- Justin Thomas
There was little drama for Johnson and his vice captains — except when it came to the final selection. That honor seemingly came down to Keegan Bradley, Cameron Young, Lucas Glover and perhaps a few other players before it was ultimately awarded to Thomas.
Thomas has not been at his best over the last several months. He has just one top 10 since the Masters and missed the cut at three of the four majors this year. Still, he’s the soul of this team, has a 6-2-1 record in Ryder Cup action and was a complete and total menace the last time the Ryder Cup was played in Europe (Paris in 2018).
“He has been the heart and soul of Team USA at Ryder Cups. He’s our emotional leader… in my mind he was born for this,” Johnson said of picking Thomas. “You just don’t leave J.T. at home.”
The six captain’s picks combined to win just twice on the PGA Tour this season, although one of those was Koepka’s victory at the PGA Championship at Oak Hill. However, the majority of them are playing quality golf and four of the six have experienced playing a Ryder Cup in Europe.
Speaking of Ryder Cups in Europe, the U.S. is trying to break a 30-year streak of losing on European soil. In reality, that’s not quite as bad as it sounds (it’s only been six Ryder Cups), but time after time the Americans have taken more talent and lost to better prepared, more thoughtfully formed European squads. Here’s a look at the last six Ryder Cups held in Europe.
Le Golf National
This is obviously not good, and Johnson is trying to right the ship by taking a collection of players who were part of a guard-changing team at Whistling Straits in 2021 when the U.S. won by a record margin of 19-9 over the Europeans.
This team includes seven players from that squad, which is perhaps fewer than expected but also gives insight as to why Thomas was selected for that final spot.
Equally interesting is that all six automatic qualifiers for the U.S. will be playing their first Ryder Cup in Europe, and three of them (Clark, Homa, Harman) will be making their Ryder Cup debut. Johnson needed some experience, players to steady the ship, and he apparently found them in Koepka, Spieth, Thomas and Fowler.
Whether that actually works remains to be seen. But this is the team the U.S. will roll with in Rome as they try, once again, to win as the favorites and end a 30-year drought the European team will attempt to prolong.