Brooks Koepka isn’t in Atlanta this week, but he’s very much part of the conversation ahead of the PGA Tour Championship.
The next time many of the players in this week’s field at East Lake Golf Club tee it up in competition will be at next month’s Ryder Cup in Rome. The biggest current elephant in the room is whether Koepka will be part of the United States team that will attempt to retain the Cup.
The five-time major winner vaulted to No. 2 in the U.S. team rankings following his victory at the PGA Championship. But with only the four majors to accumulate points in after signing with LIV Golf last year, Koepka steadily slid down the rankings the past two months.
He ultimately was passed for the final automatic spots on the U.S. roster by Max Homa and Xander Schauffele after last week’s BMW Championship. Koepka is now seventh on the U.S. list, just 29 points behind Schauffele.
That means Koepka’s Ryder Cup hopes are at the mercy of captain Zach Johnson, who will make his four captain’s picks next week. Johnson has been noncommittal in his stance on LIV players, whom he has previously said are “technically” eligible for the U.S. team as PGA of America members.
Koepka, 33, would appear to have the support of several potential teammates who will take on Team Europe at Marco Simone Golf & Country Club from Sept. 25-Oct. 1.
“I looked at the points list the other night ... I think he was 30 points shy? Which is, I think it was the equivalent of like $30,000 throughout the year,” said Scottie Scheffler, the No. 1 ranked player in the world who also tops the U.S. team standings. “So, if he played one tournament on Tour, I think he probably would have been on the team.”
Koepka has played in each of the past three Ryder Cups, including posting a 2-2-0 record in the Americans’ dominating 19-9 win at Whistling Straits two years ago. That type of experience could prove invaluable to a team that will include at least three Ryder Cup rookies in Homa, Wyndham Clark and Brian Harman.
Other would-be rookies in the mix for captain’s pick consideration include Cameron Young, Sam Burns, Denny McCarthy and Lucas Glover.
“Brooks, he’s right there. I think he would be a pretty good addition to the team,” Harman said Wednesday. “I’m not totally familiar with his record in Ryder Cups, but the experience would certainly help, especially considering there’s probably going to be a fair amount of rookies over there.”
“In my opinion, the goal of the Ryder Cup is to win. So, whoever Zach thinks that can help us win the Ryder Cup I think needs to be on the team.”
It’s an interesting dilemma for Johnson. He admittedly hasn’t followed the LIV events closely, but he also hasn’t needed to in order to keep tabs on Koepka’s form. After tying for second at the Masters, Koepka claimed his third PGA title in May and the two played a practice round ahead of last month’s 151st Open Championship.
Team Europe captain Luke Donald doesn’t have any LIV players or debate to deal with. Those who renounced their DP World Tour memberships to join the Saudi-backed league are not eligible for selection.
First his part, European stalwart Rory McIlroy said he has no problem if Johnson decides to include Koepka on the American team.
“No. I don’t think it would make a difference for us,” he said.
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