Will Johnson Select LIV Golfers? USA Captain Sidesteps Awkward Ryder Cup Question

Team USA captain Zach Johnson says it will be difficult to judge Dustin Johnson and Brooks Koepka's form for a Ryder Cup wildcard

USA Ryder Cup captain Zach Johnson
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Zach Johnson largely sidestepped questions about whether he’d select any LIV Golf players for his USA Ryder Cup team this year, saying the decision is “not on my radar right now.”

A huge question hanging over Johnson is whether he would select LIV Golf players like Dustin Johnson, Brooks Koepka, Bryson DeChambeau and Patrick Reed for the Ryder Cup.

Those playing for Greg Norman’s new tour, although eligible, would likely require a wildcard unless they produce some stellar showings in the Majors to make enough points and finish in the top six.

And while it seems unlikely a player like Reed or DeChambeau would be any good for the team room, Koepka and to a larger extent Johnson seem universally liked by the players still on the PGA Tour and could slip right in.

And while Luke Donald now has clarity with European stalwarts Ian Poulter, Lee Westwood, Sergio Garcia and Henrik Stenson resigning, Johnson is still facing those awkward questions.

Questions the Team USA captain largely sidestepped at the PGA Championship by insisting his wildcard picks were “not even a discussion item” right now, but did admit that the six automatic qualifiers will have their say, adding he’ll let “those guys that make it on merit help me formulate my team.”

The captain does seem open to LIV Golf players taking part, but hinted he’d not spoken to either his namesake Dustin Johnson or Koepka – and it seems they’ll find it hard to impress him unless it’s in the Majors.

“Really difficult for me to judge,” Johnson added. “I don't know the golf courses they're playing. Never seen them. I'm not there on foot in person.

“I get to see them, I guess, technically three or four weeks a year, this year. So that part is difficult, but you're talking about a number of guys that are my friends. I would fully embrace the opportunity to speak with them if they want to chat with me. That would be amazing.

Dustin Johnson holds the Ryder Cup in 2016

Dustin Johnson won all five matches at the last Ryder Cup

(Image credit: Getty Images)

“I'm an open book. They can call me. They have my number, et cetera, et cetera. I'm not going to sit here and say that I'm shutting that down. I am fully in as the Ryder Cup captain for the Team USA and whatever that looks like.

And on Dustin Johnson’s chances, he added: “You're talking about an individual whose resume is extremely deep and wide. He's certainly in my generation one of the best players I've ever competed against, but it's not fair for me to guess his true form or anybody's true form that I can't witness.”

He had a similar message for Koepka despite his Masters display: “He played really good that one week, but it's one week. I don't want to sit here and say that it's concrete, it's the only thing we're going to be looking at.

“It's one week, at a major venue, at the Masters tournament. He played great. There's still a lot of golf between now and then.”

Paul Higham

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.