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Ryder Cup vice-captain Fred Couples says the USA team themselves had something to do with an apparent U-turn on the possible selection of Cam Young and also the exclusion of Keegan Bradley.
Saying "the team has spoken", Couples explained the players had a say on who made the team and added that Justin Thomas was a "no brainer" despite the stats not being in his favour.
Couples now infamously stated "Cam Young will be in Italy" when seemingly revealing some of Zach Johnson's picks on his Sirius XFM radio show, which caused even more of a stir when Young didn't make it.
Johnson even had to explain the comments himself at his Ryder Cup news conference while revealing his six picks.
"I know what was said, but I think that was a while back," Johnson said of the Couples comments. "It was kind of in jest. It is what it is."
On his same radio show, Couples suggested that the players already on the team had their say, which may have even overruled what the captain and vice-captains were thinking.
“I’ve got 50 texts today, why two or three guys aren’t on the team. And I don’t have an answer for that. The only answer I have is, this is the team, and the team has spoken," he said on his Fred Couples Show on SiriusXM PGA Tour Radio.
"And if the team likes another guy a little bit better than that guy who didn’t win six tournaments and do all this, then, then no one has a problem with any of it. "
The selection of Thomas made the most headlines, but although the analytics would not have led to him being picked, Couples said he was for them the strongest of the picks.
"I think the JT thing is the strongest pick," Couples said of Thomas. "That was a no-brainer. The analytics would say no, the way he plays golf, said yes."
Thomas player Paris the right way
Couples added that along with Thomas' strong Ryder Cup record, the way he played Le Golf National in Paris gave him a big edge.
Jim Furk's side were hammered by Europe in Paris but Thomas went 4-1 as the only American who approached the set-up in the right way - which is what Couples thinks he'll also do in Rome.
"One of the things, according to Jim Furyk, we didn't play the course in Paris the way it should've been played - JT did," said Couples.
Justin Thomas was chosen by Zach Johnson to represent the U.S. in Rome.Fred Couples explains how JT's past Ryder Cup experience was factored into the decision. Catch more of Fred's Ryder Cup insight Tuesday at 10pm ET!@fredcouplesgolf | @ZachJohnsonPGA | @JustinThomas34 pic.twitter.com/dgHG57M4XfAugust 29, 2023
"JT will play this golf course (Marco Simone) like it should be played. One of the things JT can do is dissect a golf course."
Of course, Young wasn't the only player to miss out, with Keegan Bradley and Lucas Glover both unfortunate after strong seasons.
Couples' comments, though, indicate that both the backroom staff and the players on the team feel comfortable with the 12-man side - whether that can translate into a first American win in Europe for three decades remains to be seen.
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Paul Higham is a sports journalist with over 20 years of experience in covering most major sporting events for both Sky Sports and BBC Sport. He is currently freelance and covers the golf majors on the BBC Sport website. Highlights over the years include covering that epic Monday finish in the Ryder Cup at Celtic Manor and watching Rory McIlroy produce one of the most dominant Major wins at the 2011 US Open at Congressional. He also writes betting previews and still feels strangely proud of backing Danny Willett when he won the Masters in 2016 - Willett also praised his putting stroke during a media event before the Open at Hoylake. Favourite interviews he's conducted have been with McIlroy, Paul McGinley, Thomas Bjorn, Rickie Fowler and the enigma that is Victor Dubuisson. A big fan of watching any golf from any tour, sadly he spends more time writing about golf than playing these days with two young children, and as a big fair weather golfer claims playing in shorts is worth at least five shots. Being from Liverpool he loves the likes of Hoylake, Birkdale and the stretch of tracks along England's Golf Coast, but would say his favourite courses played are Kingsbarns and Portrush.
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