US Ryder Cup captain Zach Johnson has named LIV Golf rebel Brooks Koepka in his team for next month’s contest against Europe in Rome.
Koepka is one of Johnson’s six wild cards for the match, along with Justin Thomas, Jordan Spieth, Collin Morikawa, Sam Burns and Rickie Fowler.
They join previously confirmed automatic qualifiers Scottie Scheffler, Wyndham Clark, Brian Harman, Patrick Cantlay, Max Homa and Xander Schauffele in a US team aiming to retain the trophy at Marco Simone Golf and Country Club on 28 September to 1 October.
“I’m honored to represent my country again as a part of this year’s Ryder Cup team, and excited to defend the cup with my teammates in Rome. Let’s go USA!” said Koepka.
Johnson said: “A five-time major champion, he is built in my mind for the biggest of stages and there’s no bigger stage than the Ryder Cup.”
But there is no place for his LIV Golf colleagues and fellow major winners Dustin Johnson, Bryson DeChambeau and Patrick Reed – or Talor Gooch, who has won three times on the breakaway tour this season.
Thomas was not certain of a place after failing to qualify for the FedEx Cup Playoffs and carding rounds in the 80s at both the Open Championship and US Open.
“Justin Thomas is one of the most talented players on the PGA Tour in my opinion,” Johnson said.
“He has been, without question, the heart and soul of US Ryder Cup teams, our emotional leader.
“Overall [he has] a fantastic Ryder Cup record. His passion for the Ryder Cup is very evident. In my mind he is born for this and you just don’t leave JT at home.”
Johnson added: “I think the beauty of being in this position is that I am still on tour with these guys.
“My experience in the cups has got myself in this position and added some experience in what I am trying to do. Whether you are a player or a vice-captain you learn a lot.
“We have some rookies, as we always seem to. I think new blood can be a good thing.”