Why Was Brooks Koepka Left Out Of Team USA Photo?

The LIV Golf player was the one player missing from the team photo, but what was the reason?

The Ryder Cup team photo on the steps of the plane
The Team USA Ryder Cup photo didn't include Brooks Koepka
(Image credit: X @RyderCupUSA)

The US Ryder Cup team is in Italy making preparations for the defence of its trophy, and, to mark the occasion, a photo was issued of the team with their partners on the steps of the plane taking them to Europe. However, one player was conspicuous by his absence – LIV Golf star Brooks Koepka.

That raised eyebrows, not least from Chris Connelly, the former caddie of four-time European Ryder Cup star Martin Kaymer. He posted on X (formerly Twitter): “Pretty s*** that they couldn’t wait for Brooks. Remember flying into Kentucky for Valhalla and the lads that had made their own way there met the plane for a photo shoot. Hence making it a ‘team’ photo.”

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The debate over whether LIV Golf players should even be allowed to play in the Ryder Cup raged for months before the teams were confirmed, and Koepka is an anomaly as the only one from the circuit teeing it up in this year’s match.

So, was his absence from the photo a subtle dig at LIV Golf? Or maybe a sign that there’s some division between him and the rest of the team? Any thoughts along those lines were quickly laid to rest by captain Zach Johnson. Rather, it all came down to logistics.

While the other 11 US team members had a free week before heading to Italy, Koepka was at Rich Harvest Farms in Chicago playing in his 12th tournament of the LIV Golf League schedule. For that reason, he had to make his own way to Italy. 

Johnson explained at Marco Simone: “Yeah, so we all met in Atlanta. Given time constraints and I don’t know, what’s the word, when you have to take off and when you have to land, whatever you want to call that, the slots of taking off and landing - time-wise, it seemed it was best that Brooks meet us here."

According to Johnson, despite Koepka’s playing obligations, he still reached the venue before the others. He continued: “He actually beat us here. But for him to fly from Chicago to Atlanta and for us to wait to him and go, we would have got in a lot later. I don’t think it was even feasible. So he met us here. But he was here two weeks ago with us during our practice session.”

Whether Connelly has a point and a way should have been found for Koepka to be included in the photo is a matter of opinion, but as Johnson confirmed, rather than anything controversial, his absence from it came down to straightforward scheduling issues.

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.