PGA Tour winner and now on-course Golf Channel commentator Smylie Kaufman has revealed some fantastic insight into how the pairings are likely to play out in Zach Johnson's 2023 US Ryder Cup team when they face Luke Donald's European side in Rome next month.
Johnson's 12-man team was completed on Tuesday afternoon as the two-time major champion confirmed his six captain's picks.
The six captain's picks were:
They now join:
Thomas was the most controversial pick of them all, especially having missed six of his last 12 cuts on the PGA Tour.
That saw him miss out on qualifying for the FedEx Cup Playoffs for the first time in his career earlier this month.
But it would appear Thomas' close bond with players in the US Ryder Cup team, as well as his enviable Ryder Cup record of 16-5-2 was enough to convince captain Johnson to hand him a pick in his third straight side.
On making Thomas one of his six captain's picks, Johnson said: "Our emotional leader. He has been the heart and soul of Team USA. In my mind he was born for this and you just don’t leave JT at home."
A number of PGA Tour stars were left disappointed by the news, however, none more so than Keegan Bradley who took the rejection to heart.
The United States are bidding to retain the Ryder Cup following their record-breaking 19-9 victory at Whistling Straits in 2021.
But more importantly for the stars and stripes, they are looking to win on European soil for the first time in 30 years.
The last time they won the Ryder Cup in Europe was at The Belfry in 1993.
The score that year was 15-13, and golf legend Tom Watson was the captain.
Fast forward to 2023 and Johnson's team arguably represents one of the strongest US Ryder Cup sides of all time with seven major champions, a FedEx Cup champion and Olympic champion on their roster.
As a result of USA's strength in depth, even before Europe finalises its team after this week's Omega European Masters in Switzerland, Johnson's side are heavy 1/2 favourites to win the 2023 Ryder Cup.
With so much firepower at Johnson's disposal, it will likely prove a nice headache for him to have when it comes to filling out the fourballs and foursomes on Friday September 29 and Saturday September 30.
That will come before Sunday's 12 Singles.
While Johnson will no doubt already have an idea of partnerships ahead of the Ryder Cup, one-time PGA Tour winner and now on-course commentator Smylie Kaufman has taken to Twitter to provide some early insight into potential US Ryder Cup team pairings.
Kaufman, who won the 2015 Shriners Hospitals for Children Open on the PGA Tour, provided Golf Twitter some early clues this afternoon as to who each of the picks will likely pair up with at the Ryder Cup.
Breaking down Kaufman's lengthy tweet, which you can read in full below, and the most likely combinations in the foursomes and fourballs are as follows:
- Scottie Scheffler and Sam Burns
- Brooks Koepka and Collin Morikawa
- Collin Morikawa and Wyndham Clark
- Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas
- Rickie Fowler and Jordan Spieth
- Rickie Fowler and Justin Thomas
- Rickie Fowler and Max Homa
Although Kaufman only looked at the captain's picks in his tweet, one guaranteed pairing we will see at the Ryder Cup will be Patrick Cantlay and Xander Schauffele.
That's pretty much a given in all four matches on Friday and Saturday (pending any last-minute injury concerns).
The only player in the US Ryder Cup team that has yet to be mentioned above is Open champion Brian Harman, so it will be interesting to see who Johnson is thinking of sending him out with there.
Harman is a straight shooter from the tee and a deadly putter on the greens, just as we all saw at Royal Liverpool in July, so you would think he is more than likely going to prove a valuable asset in the foursomes, but potentially the fourballs too.
Scroll below to read Kaufman's tweet:
Thoughts on the #RyderCup picks:— Smylie Kaufman (@SmylieKaufman10) August 29, 2023
Burns- don’t be blinded by his President’s Cup record. He was playing better than anyone that week and had terrible luck not winning more matches. Performed exceptionally well. Pairs great with Scottie and a great putter.
Koepka- this was an…
Here's what Kaufman had to say about the thinking behind all six captain's picks:
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With Team USA now complete, who do we think will win the Ryder Cup?— GolfMagic (@GolfMagic) August 29, 2023