The United States aims to retain the Ryder Cup in Rome and claim its first away victory since 1993 at the Belfry.
The Stars and Stripes are favorites to defend the trophy they won with a dominant victory at Whistling Straits in 2021.
Zach Johnson has a plethora of options and is backed by Brooks Koepka, LIV Golf’s only player in Rome.
Koepka, along with Wyndham Clark and Brian Harman, the United States has three of this year’s four major winners, boosting American hopes of victory in Italy.
Here, Independent sport examines the strengths and weaknesses of Johnson’s team.
How was the team selected?
Qualifying for Team USA began in March 2022 and closed on August 20, 2023.
The United States selected six players on the points list to automatically qualify, then captain Johnson selected six wild card picks to complete the team.
The top six automatic qualifiers were Scottie Scheffler, Wyndham Clark, Brian Harman, Patrick Cantlay, Max Homa and Xander Schauffele. The six wildcard picks were Brooks Koepka, Jordan Spieth, Collin Morikawa, Sam Bruns, Rickie Fowler and Justin Thomas.
Team USA 2023
It’s funny what a difference two years can make. Scheffler entered the 2021 Ryder Cup as a “last man on the plane” wildcard rookie and enters the 2023 edition as the first name on the list. From the lowest-ranked player in the United States at Whistling Straights, he heads to Rome as the highest-ranked and perhaps best golfer on the planet. He arguably drew the last straw when he was put in charge of “Bryson’s babysitting service” in Wisconsin, but managed to eke out a victory and a half alongside DeChambeau in the four-ball sessions before obliterating the previously undefeated Jon Rahm 4&3 in singles for a very impressive score of 2.5 points from 3. start. Zach Johnson will surely have marked Scheffler for at least four sessions and three points this time, although the only weakness in his preternatural game remains the putter and matchplay often comes down to who is hotter with the flat stick. If he suddenly finds himself over an eight-foot putt to win the Ryder Cup on Sunday afternoon…
Making the team after his shock US Open victory at LACC, Clark feels he has the game to play for many years to come, even if he finishes his career with a major. Ninth in driving distance (313.7 yards) on the PGA Tour, Clark lets it rip. Ninth in total birdies made, it’s a new aggressive game from the United States, which could get into the heads of the Europeans. One should be wary of his accuracy right off the bat though, ranking 150th (54.64%), the course layout could negate the ceiling of one of the sport’s most notable players this year.
The idea of Harman making the Ryder Cup team was previously absurd, but he then demolished the Hoylake court at the Open to lift the Claret Jug and book his Ryder Cup debut at age 36 years old. His game is actually well suited to matchplay. golf with a steady diet of fairways and greens, combined with being one of the best putters on the PGA Tour. He gained more than 11 strokes on the field with his putter at Royal Liverpool, shooting a barely believable 58 on 59 putts inside 10 feet during the week. Do that to Rome and it’s hard to see how they’ll lose a point. The deadly cool demeanor as he calmly navigated his way to a first major title on Sunday also bodes well for his prospects amid the Ryder Cup cauldron. The man who hunts for sport will aim for Europeans and will rarely miss them.
A divisive figure in the game due to his slow play, Cantlay is a model of consistency on the PGA Tour, notching eight top 10s in 15 regular events outside the majors, placing him fourth in the world rankings. He has yet to translate that to the majors with just two top 10s in 15 starts in four years. Frankly, when it matters most, Cantlay hasn’t been there. That picture could change if he can back up his performance at the 2021 Ryder Cup, where he won three matches and tied one more at Whistling Straits, with only Dustin Johnson scoring more for the United States.
A glue guy. One of the team’s most popular players, Homa thrived in the Presidents Cup and will be a dream for Johnson when setting up his duos. Going 4-0 last year at Quail Hollow, Homa finally made a dent in a major as well, with his T-10 at Hoylake this summer. There’s a lot more to come from a player who has won three times in just over 15 months and a decent performance in the FedEx Cup play-offs propelled him into the top six qualifiers to earn an automatic place in Rome .
Formed lethal partnerships with Patrick Cantlay and Dustin Johnson two years ago on their debut and there’s no reason to think the Cantlay-Schauffele dream team won’t come together this time to replicate their dual success to four balls of Whistling Straights. Schauffele is the epitome of consistency, as evidenced by the fact that he has remarkably finished between T10 and T17 at each of the last seven majors, and sits at the top of the leaderboard almost every week. The lack of a major title hits home, but it’s hair-raising, especially since he has an Olympic gold medal at Tokyo 2020 and has won some of the PGA Tour’s biggest regular events. A win at the 2022 Scottish Open showed a handy ability to triumph on European soil and Zach Johnson won’t have to worry about what he gets from the 29-year-old – sign him up for at least three of the four duo sessions and let’s move on to more pressing dilemmas.
Koepka is back, hitting five majors this year following his PGA Championship victory. LIV Golf, no problem for Koepka, although he narrowly missed out on one of the six automatic selections when Xander Schauffele’s performance at the BMW Championship saw him overtake the ultimate alpha male golfer. Perhaps there is a world in which his defection to LIV would have kept him off Captain Johnson’s weekly radar and he might not have gotten a wild card. Now with a wealth of Ryder Cup experience, having played on the last three US Ryder Cup teams, including victories in 2016 and 2021, the 33-year-old hopes to improve on his record to 6-5-1.
An absolute demon of team golf. Put him in a Team USA jersey and success follows. Well, at least in the pairs format… 2.5 points in his debut in 2014, 2.5 more in 2016, 3 in 2018 and another 1.5 in 2021 makes him something of a banker, except that these totals only include half a point on Sunday. simple. Defeats to Graeme McDowell, Henrik Stenson and, more inexplicably, Thorbjorn Olesen, before falling level with Tommy Fleetwood two years ago, demonstrate a chink in the armor that Europe hopes to exploit in Marco Simone. It’s not just at the Ryder Cup that this mental block in singles appears as his victory over Cam Davis in last year’s President’s Cup was his first full singles point in eight appearances in team competition for States -United. It will also be interesting to see who he is paired with in foursomes/fourballs if his usual partner in crime Justin Thomas isn’t selected, as a new duo might struggle to merge. Three major tournaments and 16 world tournament victories in case you were wondering about his credentials in regular strokeplay golf.
It seemed inexplicable, but there was growing movement suggesting that Morikawa should not be selected for Roma. It seemed ridiculous at the time and, frankly, it still is. Yes, he hasn’t won a title since triumphing at the DP World Tour Championship in 2021 (although he missed the Rocket Mortgage Classic play-offs earlier this year), but as a two-time major champion by The 24-year-old, who in his day is the best iron player in the world, won a major tournament on European soil and racked up an impeccable record in his Ryder Cup debut two years ago, Zach Johnson was always going to select him as a wildcard player. His iron play makes him the perfect candidate for foursomes and his partnership with Dustin Johnson, who went three points from three at Whistling Straights, was as impressive as it gets. Two more points from last year’s Presidents Cup.
Burns’ talent is undeniable, but his name created debate after Keegan Bradley and Cameron Young were overlooked. Friend with Scottie Scheffler, Burns offers Johnson a natural duo for world number 1. The 27-year-old presented a fairly convincing selection case in winning the WGC Matchplay in March, but has produced largely indifferent form in the months since. Burns has an uninspiring record of two halves and three losses in five Presidents Cup games last year and questions are being asked about his ability to compete at the highest level as he searches for a first-ever top 15 in a major championship continues. .
Rickie Fowler’s revival was one of golf’s most popular storylines, racking up top-10 finishes, only to fail horribly at the US Open, after co-leading before the final round. But Fowler wouldn’t have to wait long for his breakthrough victory, winning the Rocket Mortgage Classic a few weeks later. Able to shoot darts at the flag, which will still make for great match viewing, but Fowler is hoping to improve on a fairly poor Ryder Cup record (3-7-5) after appearing in four of them during his career to date.
One of the most controversial choices in Ryder Cup history? Maybe. Johnson’s reputation could depend on the choice and ability of Justin Thomas to inspire the stars and stripes of Rome. Fifth at the Championship Fortinet brings renewed confidence, coupled with his immense Ryder Cup pedigree after months of putrid form. A sparkling 6-2-1 record in the previous two Ryder Cups (plus a 10-3-2 record in Presidents Cups), while also being the Captain America who inspires his team and turns up the noses of the Europeans, which makes it a terribly compelling match. case to get him on the plane despite his shape. And just 12 months ago, he won his second major at the 2022 PGA Championship, although he couldn’t even qualify for the FedEx Cup play-offs by finishing in the top 75 in the PGA Tour rankings this season. .