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Breaking down Zach Johnson’s Ryder Cup captain’s picks for U.S. team

U.S. Ryder Cup captain Zach Johnson has made his decision on who will be flying to Rome for the Ryder Cup in September as captain’s picks.

The roster additions feature some surprises and even a LIV participant as the Americans look to capture their second straight Ryder Cup victory.

The U.S. has won nine of the last 13 events and owns a 27-14-2 record against Europe overall, but haven’t won on European soil since 1993.

Here are the Captain’s picks that will go to battle at Marco Simone Golf and Country Club outside Rome (Sept. 29 – Oct. 1).

After his resurgent 2023 season capped off by his victory at the PGA Championship at Oak Hill Country Club in May, Koepka joins Johnson and the rest of the Americans despite the backlash over his ties to the Saudi-funded LIV golf tour.

Despite the debate on whether LIV players should be playing in the Ryder Cup, the five-time major champ is donning the stars and stripes for his fourth Ryder Cup. He’s the lone American with LIV ties on the U.S. squad.

The No. 14 ranked player in the world golf rankings has a 6-5-1 career record in his previous Ryder Cup appearances (2016, 2018 and 2021).

Spieth will be participating in his fifth Ryder Cup and brings with him a 8-7-3 career mark to this year’s clash in Italy.

The 30-year-old has not won a tournament this year, however he has earned $7.2 million this season (the most he’s earned since 2017 when he won the British Open at Royal Birkdale).

Spieth has two Top 3 and seven Top 10 finishes on tour this year. His tied-for-fourth-place finish at the Masters kicked off a competitive season for the veteran.

Morikawa will be playing in his second career Ryder Cup and first as a member of the away team.

The 26-year-old made his Ryder Cup debut at Whistling Straits in Wisconsin in 2021 where he went 3-0-1.

The two-time major champion (2020 PGA Championship and 2021 British Open) also participated in the 2021 President’s Cup.

Fowler is another case of a resurgent golfer being called upon on one of the biggest stages.

The 34-year-old captured his first victory since 2019 at the Rocket Mortgage Classic in July.

Fowler doesn’t bring with him a great track record in the biennial event that pits the U.S. against Europe as he owns a 3-7-5 record in four previous appearances. His most recent selection came in 2018 when he went 1-3 in matches played at the Albatros Course of Le Golf National outside Paris.

Thomas has not had his best season on tour, but his experience (2018, 2020 Ryder Cup) was enough to make him a captain’s pick. He owns a 6-2-1 career record in the Ryder Cup including 3-0 in four-balls and 2-0 in singles.

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Thomas currently ranks as the 71st golfer in the world on the FedEx Cup Standings. The 30-year-old missed the cut in nearly every major this season with the exception of the PGA Championship where he tied for 65.

Sam Burns will be making his first career Ryder Cup appearance. The 27-year-old is currently the No. 9 ranked golfer in the world with five career victories on tour.

Burns’ most valuable achievement thus far was his victory at the 2023-WGC DellTechnologies Match Play.

With the Ryder Cup format featuring some match play, Burns could be a useful asset to the Americans.

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The six Ryder Cup captain’s selections will join automatic qualifiers Scottie Scheffler, Wyndham Clark, Brian Harman, Xander Schauffele, Patrick Cantlay and Max Homa on Johnson’s roster.

For Team Europe, Rory McIlroy, Jon Rahm, Viktor Hovland and Tyrrell Hatton already have automatic team bids with Captain Luke Donald naming his selections on Monday, Sept. 4.

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