"Probably six PGA Tour players, but not necessarily." The words of US Ryder Cup captain Zach Johnson in an interview on golf's Subpar podcast prior to last week's BMW Championship, the final counting event for players to qualify for his team.
Related: Schauffele with dagger to Koepka
Homa pushed himself up to fifth on the list to lock up his Ryder Cup debut, while Schauffele shuffled up into the sixth and final spot, demoting Koepka to seventh in the process.
So with LIV Golf's Koepka out the automatics, what happens now then?
Koepka etched his name on the famous Wanamaker Trophy for a third time earlier this season at the US PGA.
Not that Johnson will have paid much notice to what went down on LIV Golf this season, but Koepka also captured his second title on the Saudi-bankrolled circuit in Orlando just days before the year's first major at Augusta.
Zach Johnson may as well have said: "I honestly CBA to tune into The CW Network."— Andy Roberts (@AndyRobertsGolf) August 18, 2023
So surely two wins, one of which was a major, and a runner-up on hallowed Georgia turf will be enough to see Koepka punch his ticket into a fourth straight US Ryder Cup team.
You would think so right?!
Only you might want to think again after listening to these latest comments from Johnson.
On Koepka's last three appearances in the US Ryder Cup side, he made it through automatically every time.
That's not the case this year, but these are very different times in the pro game.
Putting all politics to one side, Johnson simply must take Koepka with him to Italy, certainly if the United States have any intentions of ending a 30-year winless spell away from home in the Ryder Cup.
They will need 12 fighters out there.
We stuck up a poll on Twitter last night asking you what you thought Johnson should do, and it would the seem the majority of you are in favour of Koepka making the team.
But some of you aren't so sure:
Brooks Koepka is OUT of the automatic spots in the US Ryder Cup team. What happens now? https://t.co/EMW9jbP5FE— GolfMagic (@GolfMagic) August 20, 2023
Koepka is a proven major winner who lives for the big stage, of which there is none grander than a Ryder Cup.
The big-hitting American has not exactly proven a world beater in the Ryder Cup since his debut in 2016 but his record of 7-6-1 (W-L-H) is certainly more than acceptable.
Koepka, a five-time major champion, will also not be fazed in the slightest by such a one-sided atmosphere at Marco Simone come the end of September.
He lives for these types of moments.
While Koepka is struggling for a bit of form at the minute with a pair of T38s on LIV Golf, he has just had a baby with his wife Jena Sims, so you could argue his attention is rightly elsewhere at the moment.
But we have a month until the Ryder Cup, and he will be more than ready to roll.
It will have probably been a shock to the system that he has fallen out of the automatic places, but there is no doubt in my mind Koepka will be on the plane to Rome.
If Johnson does not pick Koepka then quite frankly politics has got involved.
They can deny it all they want, and claim picks were solely chosen on team dynamics and chemistry, but that will ultimately be the case if Koepka is dropped from the travelling squad to Rome.
The fact Johnson never even picked up the phone or dropped a DM to congratulate LIV Golf's Bryson DeChambeau on his sensational 58 to win the LIV Golf Greenbrier earlier this month, or even just provide him with a simple update on his thinking ahead of making his six picks, speaks volumes to me as to what the skipper really makes of LIV Golf right now.
DeChambeau provided a shocking update ahead of the US Ryder Cup team announcement, and I find it rather pathetic.
Johnson is the captain of United States, not the PGA Tour at the end of the day.
In case you missed last week's revelation, Johnson was asked to speak about the form of LIV Golf players during his interview with Colt Knost and Drew Stoltz, and the only player the two-time major champion wanted to speak about was Koepka.
That surely does provide a green light for Koepka's chances of making the team, but I still thought it was poor from Johnson to completely bypass the recent performance of DeChambeau as well as the three-win season of Talor Gooch.
DeChambeau is now 10/1 to make the team, and Gooch is an even bigger 20/1.
So that's both of them out the running you would think, but as I say, I would have picked DeChambeau - a man for the big occasion just like Koepka who won't act like a rabbit in headlights when the going gets tough.
LIV Golf's Dustin Johnson, who went 5-0 at the last Ryder Cup, has endured a fairly lacklustre season by his own high standards with just one victory on the circuit this season and one top-10 finish in the majors with a T10 at the US Open.
While some are confident DJ remains in the mix for a pick, I have my doubts, and so do the bookies too at odds of 7/1.
While I have already ranted at large about DeChambeau making up the US team, honestly, if Koepka does not get a pick in the side I will absolutely lose my s***.
He simply must be selected as he is rightfully one of the best players in the world and he has proven that in the majors this season.
If that is the case then it leaves us with one place that will more than likely be fought out between four players, which in my opinion will be Justin Thomas, Sam Burns, Lucas Glover or Keegan Bradley.
You could argue the recent consistency of Russell Henley would also give him a shout, but it's probably unlikely now.
Tony Finau, who would have made most predicted teams at the start of the year, has not done enough in recent months to deserve any consideration for a pick.
Thomas will probably get the nod for the final pick due to his close bond with just about every player in the team, especially his best friends in likely wildcards Fowler and Spieth.
JT has also confirmed he will be competing in the Fortinet Championship two weeks before the Ryder Cup.
Should be:— Andy Roberts (@AndyRobertsGolf) August 21, 2023
Anyway, over to you now Zach Johnson...
Let's see how much you really hate LIV Golf!
More Roberts Rants:
- Why Zach Johnson MUST pick Bryson DeChambeau for the Ryder Cup!
- Why is Ludvig Aberg ODDS-ON to make the European Ryder Cup team?!
- Bryson reveals SHOCKING update ahead of US Ryder Cup team announcement!
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