Brooks Koepka, Justin Thomas are among U.S. captain Zach Johnson’s six picks for Ryder Cup

In the end, Zach Johnson wasn’t afraid to stir emotions with his captain’s picks for the U.S. team in the upcoming Ryder Cup in Italy. On Tuesday, Johnson announced his six choices—Brooks Koepka, Justin Thomas, Jordan Spieth, Rickie Fowler, Collin Morikawa and Sam Burns—and at least two of those picks will likely create much debate among the players and fans.

Koepka, who won the PGA Championship in May, was picked despite leaving the PGA Tour last year for the Saudi-backed LIV Golf League, while Thomas didn’t play well enough to reach the PGA Tour’s FedEx Cup Playoffs but is the current crop’s emotional leader.

The chosen players join thos who had automatically qualified for the team: Scottie Scheffler, Wyndham Clark, Max Homa, Patrick Cantlay, Xander Schauffele and Brian Harman.

The Americans will try to win a second straight Ryder Cup after routing Europe in 2021 at Whistling Straits, with the bigger task being beating the host team on its soil for the first time since 1993. That’s six straight wins at home for Europe. The Cup competition is set for Marco Simone Golf & Country Club outside of Rome, Sept. 29-Oct. 1.

“To say I’m excited about these gents is an understatement,” Johnson said. “They check all of the boxes—fierce competitors, great versatility, great flexibility when it comes to the pairings.”

There are a handful of players who could definitely be upset about not being selected. Keegan Bradley, who was 11th in the U.S. team standings and said he spent much of his waking hours thinking about the Ryder Cup, and Cameron Young, who was ninth, both ranked higher than Burns (No. 12). Lucas Glover put himself in the mix with two victories in the past month, and Tony Finau missed out, though he was only 21st in the standings.

Though not much of a surprise because of his polarizing position in the game, LIV’s Bryson DeChambeau was left off despite four top-10s, including a win, this season.

Thanks in large part to his victory in the PGA Championship at Oak Hill and tie for second in the Masters, Koepka remained among the automatic qualifiers in the U.S. standings until he was knocked out following the Tour Championship, where Max Homa and Xander Schauffele passed him.

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