Fred Couples makes Justin Thomas claim after awkward Cameron Young snub

Ryder Cup vice captain reveals why the US decided to pick Justin Thomas despite the two-time major champion's poor form in 2023.

Ben Smith's picture
Wed, 30 Aug 2023
Fred Couples makes Justin Thomas claim after awkward Cameron Young snub

Ryder Cup vice captain Fred Couples claimed a conversation with Jim Furyk convinced the United States side to pick Justin Thomas

Thomas, 30, was one of six players who were selected by skipper Zach Johnson on 29 August. 

His inclusion was a tad surprising given he has played - by his own admission - nowhere near good enough this season. 

But his record speaks for itself. Over the two Cups he has played he has gone 16-5-3. 

Johnson described the two-times major champion as 'the heart and soul' of the team, adding: "You just don't leave JT at home". 

Couples immediately made the headlines after the wildcard picks were announced given that he previously appeared to spill the beans

A little more than a month ago the 63-year-old said Cameron Young would definitely be in Italy and Max Homa would be headed to Rome even if he didn't automatically qualify. 

Young, the 2022 rookie of the year, was left out in the cold. According to Johnson, Young handled the disappointing phone call with class. 

As for the inclusion of Thomas, Couples conceded during an appearance on Sirius XM PGA Tour radio that the analytics said 'no' when it came to the 30-year-old. 

"The way he plays golf said yes," said Couples, who went on to explain that an interesting conversation with Jim Furyk helped persuade the team to go with Thomas. 

As far as Furyk was concerned, Thomas was the only golfer who played Le Golf National correctly during the 42nd Ryder Cup in 2018. 

Furyk was the captain in Paris and his side were defeated 17.5 to 10.5. 

Thomas picked up four points from the five matches he played, including defeating Rory McIlroy in the singles. 

Couples told the station:

"The analytics would say no [but] the way he plays golf said yes. [He has a] record of 16-5-3 which is a record that not many people have.
"And so, one of the things, according to Jim Furyk who I sat with at Whistling Straits, we didn't play the course in Paris they way it should've been played. JT did.
"JT will play this golf [the Marco Simone Golf & Country Club] like it should be played. And that's not to say whoever we picked wouldn't.
"What's to say is one of the things JT can do is dissect the golf course. So, he's going to get the ball in play and [people might be saying], 'Oh he's driving it poorly'. Well, when he gets there he'll get the ball in play. And that's what we're counting on."

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"It was said in jest"

Johnson was asked about Couples previously stating Young would be involved. 

He explained:

"All of my phone calls were difficult. That goes without saying. It's part of what I was warned about when it came to those and my vice captains that have sat in this seat before.
"I say that; it did keep me up at night having to make those phone calls, specifically Cam. Phenomenal player, better person. He was nothing but class.
"Yeah, I know what was said, but I think that was a while back. It was kind of in jest. It is what it is.
"All of those phone calls were extremely difficult. Fortunately the ones receiving them were beyond classy."

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