Zach Johnson Deals US Ryder Cup Blow To LIV Golf Rebels

The US Ryder Cup captain gives a reality check to LIV Golf Series players hoping to make the 2023 tournament

Zach Johnson takes a shot during the 2022 Travelers Championship
(Image credit: Getty Images)

US Ryder Cup captain Zach Johnson has suggested that LIV Golf Invitational Series players still hoping to make next year’s Ryder Cup team are in for a disappointment.

Johnson was speaking ahead of the John Deere Classic at TPC Deere Run. Asked how he could make captain's picks with question marks over the eligibility of the rebels, he said: "So what I know is this: in order to play on the Ryder Cup team whether you're top 6 or a pick, you must garner Ryder Cup points through the PGA of America. In order to garner Ryder Cup points through the PGA of America you have to be a member of the PGA of America. The way that we're members of the PGA of America is through the PGA Tour. I'll let you connect the dots from there."

With the next Ryder Cup still over a year away much could happen in the meantime, and there may even be implications for those US LIV Golf players who have resigned their PGA Tour membership, such as Dustin Johnson, Patrick Reed and Kevin Na, and those who haven't, including Bryson DeChambeau and Brooks Koepka. The video below explains how the LIV Golf Series works.

Dustin Johnson, DeChambeau and Koepka all played in the last Ryder Cup, but the captain's words could barely be more clear as to what is expected of anyone hoping to make it into his team. Meanwhile, there has also been pressure from 9/11 families who sent a letter to Phil Mickelson, Na, Johnson, DeChambeau and Reed expressing their anger, outrage and disappointment that they joined the Saudi-backed Series. They also described hopes for rules exceptions to allow them to play in the US Ryder Cup team as "absurd".

Despite Johnson's unequivocal stance on the issue, though, he explained he does have some sympathy for those who have chosen to join the Series. He said: "I got some friends that have decided to go that route. A lot of individuals that I'm for. I mean these are my friends. I'm for them. I want them to do well. I want them to, you know, find contentment or happiness in whatever it may be. It's not for me to say how that develops or how they find that. I will say I have the utmost respect for them individually."

As for Johnson, his loyalties lie firmly with the PGA Tour. He said: “It’s hard for anybody to say that it’s going to have a massive impact here or there. My hope is that it does not and my ever-optimist brain says it will not because of what’s already established here. I think players are starting to see that, you know what, it’s pretty darn good where we are right here.”

Johnson's message to the LIV Golf players comes in the aftermath of the PGA and DP World Tours strengthening their alliance to counter the threat of the Saudi-backed Series. Meanwhile, it's not just the US Ryder Team that faces uncertainty, with Golf Monthly learning a divide is appearing in the European Ryder Cup team over the LIV defectors, with the DP World Tour leaning towards banning those players from competing in the 2023 event.

Mike Hall
Mike Hall

Mike has 25 years of experience in journalism, including writing on sports such as golf, football and cricket. Now a freelance writer for Golf Monthly, he is dedicated to covering the sport’s most newsworthy stories. Originally from East Yorkshire, Mike now resides in Canada, where the nearest course is less than a mile from his home. It’s there where he remains confident that, one of these days, he’ll play the 17th without finding the water. 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.