13 Players In Contention For US Ryder Cup Wildcards

Who's likely to come into Zach Johnson's thoughts ahead of his six captain's picks for the biennial match at Marco Simone?

Jordan Spieth, Justin Thomas and Brooks Koepka at the 2021 Ryder Cup at Whistling Straits
Who will be given wildcards for the US Ryder Cup team?
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With the six automatic qualifiers for Zach Johnson’s US Ryder Cup team now confirmed, attention turns to the remaining half a dozen players who will complete his team via his captain’s picks.

Johnson will name his six wildcards on 29 August. Here are the players still in contention for a place in Johnson’s team for the match.

Keegan Bradley

Keegan Bradley at the BMW Championship at Olympia Fields

Keegan Bradley is desperate for to make the US Ryder Cup team

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If Johnson chooses Bradley, the captain will be in no doubt he has a player eager to succeed in the Ryder Cup. Bradley recently admitted he thinks about the Ryder Cup “every second I’m awake” as he bids for his first appearance in the biennial match since 2014.

Bradley hasn’t done his chances any harm in recent months, particularly with victory in June’s Travelers Championship, while he finished 11th in the US Ryder Cup points list. However, with strong competition for places and that lack of Ryder Cup action over the last nine years, Bradley faces an anxious week to see if he’s done enough.

Sam Burns

Sam Burns at the BMW Championship at Olympia Fields

Has Sam Burns done enough to make Zach Johnson's team?

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After competing for the US in the 2022 Presidents Cup after a good season, Burns had seemed a strong contender for a maiden Ryder Cup appearance. That was further enhanced with a win in the WGC-Match Play at Austin Country Club.

Overall, though, Burns has not quite lived up to expectations in 2023, and with plenty of players with more Ryder Cup experience in the reckoning, it remains to be seen if he has done enough to warrant a place.

Bryson DeChambeau

Bryson DeChambeau during the 2021 Ryder Cup at Whistling Straits

Bryson DeChambeau is hoping for his third Ryder Cup appearance

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Were it not for his involvement with LIV Golf, DeChambeau would surely be a near certainty for Johnson’s team given his form. Top-10 finishes in the US Open and The Open came before his maiden LIV Golf win at The Greenbrier, which included an astonishing 58 in the third round.

A somewhat underwhelming 2-3-1 record in his previous two Ryder Cup appearances would have given Johnson a reason to consider other options, but his recent form would surely have made a strong case for his inclusion.

With the politics over the involvement of LIV Golf players coming into play, though, DeChambeau may have to wait until 2025 for his third Ryder Cup appearance.

Tony Finau

Tony Finau takes a shot in the BMW Championship at Olympia Fields

Tony Finau has admitted he is a long shot for the US Ryder Cup team

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Finau has admitted he is “on the outside looking in” over his Ryder Cup selection, and his recent results probably haven't done enough to shift that opinion. ‘

A T7 in the 3M Open was an encouraging effort, but he needed to push on more than he has in the FedEx Cup Playoffs, which yielded finishes of 64th in the FedEx St. Jude Championship before a T37 in the BMW Championship.

Finau still has the Tour Championship to impress Johnson, but he’ll need something special to force his way into the reckoning for a third successive Ryder Cup appearance.

Rickie Fowler

Rickie Fowler at the 2018 Ryder Cup at Le Golf National

Rickie Fowler last played in the Ryder Cup in 2018

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Fowler would undoubtedly be a popular choice, among fans and potential teammates alike, and a look at his form also makes his inclusion seem likely.

After a slump so severe that some questioned whether he would ever return to his best, 2023 has been a huge success for the Californian.

After linking up with Butch Harmon, Fowler is now back in the world’s top 30 following a season that included victory in the Rocket Mortgage Classic and barely any failures.

Crucially, Fowler has plenty of Ryder Cup experience, too, having played in four editions. With three Presidents Cup appearances under his belt too, it would be a big surprise if he isn’t among Johnson’s wildcards.

Lucas Glover

Lucas Glover at the BMW Championship at Olympia Fields

Lucas Glover has yet to make a Ryder Cup appearance

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If Glover is to make the US Ryder Cup team, he will have left it late in his career for a maiden appearance at the age of 43.

His bid for the team has come late too, with back-to-back victories in the Wyndham Championship and FedEx St. Jude Championship putting him into contention.

Those wins followed three other top-10 finishes in July, so he must surely have a chance on form alone.

However, until that recent hot streak, Glover had not been nearly as impressive. The wealth of talent and experience at Johnson's disposal also means there are more obvious candidates, and because of that, it could be a case of too little, too late.

Dustin Johnson

Dustin Johnson in his singles match in the 2021 Ryder Cup at Whistling Straits

Dustin Johnson has a wealth of Ryder Cup experience

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Had Johnson brought his 2022 LIV Golf form into the current season, he’d surely demand consideration for the team regardless of his involvement in the circuit.

As well as leading his 4 Aces GC team to victory in the 2022 Team Championship, Johnson had top-10 finishes in all but one of the tournaments. However, 2023 has not been as productive. Although Johnson won the LIV Golf Tulsa tournament, his overall form has been inconsistent.

Johnson still has his previous Ryder Cup record to help persuade his namesake he is worthy of inclusion, with five previous appearances. That includes helping the US to victory in 2021 with five wins out of five.

Will it be enough to get the nod in 2023? Given his experience and record in the biennial match, it wouldn’t be a big surprise despite his patchy form of late, but he could just as easily be overlooked.

Brooks Koepka

Brooks Koepka at the LIV Golf Bedminster tournament

Koepka only just missed out on an automatic qualifying position

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Koepka was within a whisker of qualifying automatically, thanks largely to his T2 at The Masters and PGA Championship win.

While he ultimately missed out to Xander Schauffele, he remains a strong contender for Johnson’s team despite his involvement with LIV Golf.

As well as Koepka’s form in the Majors suggesting he has put his long-standing injury problems behind him, he also has significant Ryder Cup experience, with three appearances, and has twice been on the winning team.

With a reputation as a player who saves his best for the big occasion, it would not be a surprise to see him in the line-up for the match at Marco Simone.

Denny McCarthy

Denny McCarthy at the BMW Championship at Olympia Fields

Denny McCarthy is an outsider for selection

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McCarthy finished a creditable 14th in the US Ryder Cup points list, ahead of at least one other contender in Justin Thomas. However, the 30-year-old has yet to make an appearance in the biennial match. 

Nevertheless, McCarthy has shown some excellent form in 2023, including runner-up at The Memorial Tournament. 

Despite a T10 at the BMW Championship, though, it wasn't enough to see him through to the Tour Championship. With a final chance to impress Johnson now out of reach, it would be a surprise if McCarthy is among the 12 heading to Italy in September.

Collin Morikawa

Collin Morikawa during the BMW Championship at Olympia Fields

Collin Morikawa's form has been patchy

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Morikawa had a 3-0-1 record in his maiden Ryder Cup appearance at Whistling Straits, and he’ll be hoping that display, along with his appearance in the 2022 Presidents Cup, is enough for a wildcard in 2023.

That’s because, despite finishing 10th on the Ryder Cup points list, Morikawa’s recent form is unlikely to persuade Johnson. Meanwhile, he has now gone over two years without a win on the PGA Tour. 

Will Morikawa's performance in 2021 be enough to make the team?

Jordan Spieth

Jordan Spieth in the BMW Championship at Olympia Fields

Jordan Spieth will be confident of making the team

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Like Morikawa, Spieth has struggled at times in 2023 although there have been considerable high points too, including a T4 at The Masters and a T6 in the first FedEx Cup Playoff, the FedEx St. Jude Championship.

The 30-year-old also has plenty of matchplay experience, with four Ryder Cup appearances and the same number in the Presidents Cup. 

Even though he didn’t do enough to qualify automatically, Spieth is surely among the frontrunners to make Johnson’s team as a captain’s pick.

Justin Thomas

Justin Thomas during the 2021 Ryder Cup at Whistling Straits

Justin Thomas is relying on his Ryder Cup experience to secure a wildcard

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Thomas may have endured an alarming loss of form in 2023, but his record in the Ryder Cup surely makes him a compelling option for Johnson with an overall record of 6-2-1 from his two appearances.

That included 4-1-0 in the 2018 edition, which featured a singles win over Rory McIlroy, despite being on the losing side at Le Golf National.  

He’s likely to come even more into Johnson’s thoughts if Spieth is to play. Thomas partnered his friend in the 2022 Presidents Cup and the pair won all four matches. Surely Johnson won’t overlook that record when considering Thomas for the match in Italy.

Cameron Young

Cameron Young during the BMW Championship at Olympia Fields

Cameron Young is hoping to make his maiden Ryder Cup appearance

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Young has yet to play in the Ryder Cup, but his appearance on the winning team in the 2022 Presidents Cup, where his record was 1-2-1, will stand him in good stead if selected.

The 2022 PGA Tour Rookie of the Year has enjoyed a solid 2023, too. While he still awaits his first PGA Tour win, Young’s reputation as one of the brightest talents in the game is justified, and his runner-up finish in the WGC-Match Play is further evidence he’d be worthy of a place in Johnson’s team.

Mike Hall

Mike has over 25 years of experience in journalism, including writing on a range of sports throughout that time, such as golf, football and cricket. Now a freelance staff writer for Golf Monthly, he is dedicated to covering the game's most newsworthy stories. 

He has written hundreds of articles on the game, from features offering insights into how members of the public can play some of the world's most revered courses, to breaking news stories affecting everything from the PGA Tour and LIV Golf to developmental Tours and the amateur game. 

Mike grew up in East Yorkshire and began his career in journalism in 1997. He then moved to London in 2003 as his career flourished, and nowadays resides in New Brunswick, Canada, where he and his wife raise their young family less than a mile from his local course. 

Kevin Cook’s acclaimed 2007 biography, Tommy’s Honour, about golf’s founding father and son, remains one of his all-time favourite sports books.