The 44th edition of the Ryder Cup is rapidly approaching and United States team captain Zach Johnson has named his 12-man roster to partake in this year’s renewal of the tournament at Marco Simone Golf and Country Club on the outskirts of Rome between 29 September and October 1.
Scottie Scheffler (World No.1), US Open champion Wyndham Clark (World No.10), Open winner Brian Harman (World No.9), Patrick Cantlay (World No.5), Olympic gold medal winner Xander Schauffele (World No.6) and Max Homa (World No.7) all automatically qualified.
Unlike his European counterpart Luke Donald, Johnson was able to select LIV Golf professionals to represent the United States in Italy. However, he picked just PGA Championship victor Brooks Koepka alongside Sam Burns, Rickie Fowler, Collin Morikawa, Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas.
The US haven’t won the Ryder Cup on European soil since 1993, but are heavily expected to wipe the floor with Rory McIlroy, Jon Rahm and co. in the Ryder Cup betting. They will need their four Ryder Cup rookies and several out-of-form players to step up to the mark in Italy if they are to end their 30-year wait, however.
The Ryder Cup is like no other tournament these professionals will play all year and form will go out the window once they step out onto the first tee in front of the boisterous crowd and the adrenaline kicks in. That said, let’s take a look at three out-of-form Americans who should still prove pivotal to their team in Italy.
Justin Thomas has had a season to forget and some are perhaps left scratching their heads that the 30-year-old snatched a spot as one of Johnson’s six picks. The two-time major winner recorded just three top 10 finishes in 20 events this season and has missed the cut in five of his last eight tournament appearances, while he also failed to qualify for the FedExCup Playoffs for the first time in his career.
That is a worry, but Thomas has a fantastic record in the Ryder Cup (6-2-1), and alongside his formidable partnership with good friend Jordan Spieth against the Europeans, is hard for Johnson to overlook.
Speaking of Spieth, he is another player whose current form is a concern. He had a solid start to the season, as he recorded six top 10 finishes in 14 tournaments — including the Pheonix Open (T6), Arnold Palmer Invitational (T4), Valspar Championship (T3), Masters (T4) and losing a playoff in the RBC Heritage.
However, the 30-year-old has finished in the top 10 just twice in his 10 tournaments since and missed four cuts — including in back-to-back outings at the US Open and Scottish Open. Spieth’s Ryder Cup experience is invaluable to the team, though, as this will be his fifth appearance and he has a decent record of 8-7-3.
By Collin Morikawa’s exceptionally high standards, this year has been below par. The two-time major winner failed to add to his five career titles in his 24 starts and recorded just six top 10 finishes over the course of the season. Just one of those came in the four majors as he scrapped into the top 10 in the Masters.
The 26-year-old is set to make his second Ryder Cup appearance and he boasts an unbeaten record (3-0-1) after playing a big part in the United States’ dominance at Whistling Straits two years ago. Johnson will be hoping he’s just as important this time.