Since he made his move to LIV Golf, Brooks Koepka has often claimed there’s little to no animosity between himself and those who remained on the PGA Tour.
“No one is angry at anybody from what I’ve seen,” he said earlier this year before the Masters. He would go on to tie for second at Augusta National. After Sunday’s final round at the 2023 BMW Championship, it’d be fair if Koepka held a little hostility towards Max Homa and Xander Schauffele.
When Koepka claimed the PGA Championship earlier this season, he climbed into one of six automatic qualifying spots on the U.S. Ryder Cup team bound for Italy next month. He’s been the only LIV player with any real chance at the Ryder Cup all summer, but those hopes took a turn over the weekend at Olympia Fields outside Chicago. There were scenarios for ten different players to punch their Ryder Cup tickets after the conclusion of the BMW. Koepka was clinging to the fifth spot, but by the time the final putt dropped he had been ousted from the top six.
Max Homa needed a two-way T-9 and Xander Schauffele needed a solo-ninth to kick Koepka the curb. Homa finished T-5 while Schauffele came in just two shots back at T-8.
Now the spotlight is on U.S. captain Zach Johnson, who will make his six captain’s picks in just eight days time. Will he leave the No. 7 player on the standings – who finished just 29 points behind Schauffele – off the team? Does anyone else from LIV have a case to make for a pick?
Let’s start with Koepka’s qualifications first. The 32-year-old is still No. 13 in the world after claiming his fifth major title earlier this year. He also finished T-17 at the U.S. Open. Across five LIV starts since his PGA win, Koepka has finished T-12, 3, T-17, T-38 and T-38. In three previous Ryder Cup appearances for the red, white and blue, Koepka boasts a 6-5-1 record, 2-0-1 in Sunday singles.
Koepka proved this year that, when healthy, his game still stacks up against anyone on the biggest stage. Can Johnson really leave a player with that kind of ability and mindset off a squad that already features three rookies and will be looking to win on foreign soil for the first time in 30 years?
There’s also been some recent chatter around Bryson DeChambeau, who fancies himself as a top-10 player but admitted he hasn’t heard a word from Johnson. The bulked-up bomber recently shot a 58 to win LIV Golf Greenbrier, and his T-4 at the PGA Championship was a strong showing, same with his T-20 at the U.S. Open. He’s now ranked 113th in the OWGR. That said, is a handful of good performances after just as many bad with LIV really enough to propel him onto the team?
He’d be a comical pick to pair with Koepka after their former beef, and offers just a 2-3-1 record in two previous appearances. DeChambeau seems to have found something in his game and appears to be trending in the right direction. It just might be too little, too late for him to earn one of the six picks, especially with the likes of Koepka, Jordan Spieth, Cameron Young, Collin Morikawa, Keegan Bradley, Sam Burns and Rickie Fowler all angling for selection, as well.
Talor Gooch is currently having the second-best season on LIV this year thanks to his three wins, but the 31-year-old was pedestrian to say the least at the majors with two missed cuts at the PGA Championship and the Open and a T-34 at the Masters. Patrick Reed’s time as Captain America has come and gone, and while Dustin Johnson may still have a world-class A game at his best, he’s rarely been anywhere near his best this season.
If LIV is to be represented in Italy, there’s two players with an arguable shot and one man with a decision to make.