Ryder Cup snubs: 5 bubble players left off the 2023 U.S. Ryder Cup team
Will he, or won’t he? That was the question swirling around two-time major champion Justin Thomas in the lead up to the U.S. Ryder Cup captain’s selections.
For those who follow the PGA Tour closely, it’s no secret Thomas struggled this summer. But he’s also been a key player in past Presidents and Ryder Cups teams (16-5-3 career record).
What would U.S. Ryder Cup captain Zach Johnson decide? On Tuesday, we found out.
Thomas is in.
Johnson, during a press conference at the PGA of America headquarters on Tuesday in Frisco, Texas, completed his 2023 Ryder Cup team with six captain’s picks, Thomas among them. Also picked were Brooks Koepka, Jordan Spieth, Collin Morikawa, Sam Burns and Rickie Fowler. They join the the six auto-qualifiers in Scottie Scheffler, Wyndham Clark, Brian Harman, Patrick Cantlay, Max Homa and Xander Schauffele to take on Europe at Marco Simone on Sept. 29 to Oct. 1 in Rome.
Fowler (13th) and Thomas (15th) were the only players outside the top 12 in the final standings who were picked, which means there were more than a couple of worthy players left off the team.
“All those phone calls were extremely difficult,” Johnson said. “Fortunately the ones receiving them were beyond classy.”
Here are your Ryder Cup snubs.
Ryder Cup snubs: Bubble players left off the team
Cameron Young, 9th in the standings
Young was the highest-ranked player in the Ryder Cup standings who wasn’t picked. Although he was ninth in the standings, his play hasn’t been as strong in 2023. The 2021-22 PGA Tour Rookie of the Year still has yet to win on Tour, and he had just five top 10s in 2023 (and only two of those came in the last four months). A potential key factor in Young missing the team? He ranked 145th in SG: putting last season. He also missed qualifying for the Tour Championship, robbing him of one final start to potentially change Johnson’s mind.
Keegan Bradley, 11th in final standings
Few players have been as vocal in confessing their desire to make this team as Bradley, who was on the squad in 2012 and 2014 but hasn’t made one since.
“I think about the Ryder Cup every second I’m awake basically,” he said a couple of weeks ago at the BMW Championship. “My biggest thing right now is trying not to think about it while I’m playing because it’s important to me. I feel like I could bring some experience to the team. I would personally love to just be on a team with this younger group.”
Bradley, who has a 4-3-0 record in his two Ryder Cups, won twice last season, including a semi-recent victory at the Travelers Championship in late June. He had a strong start in his final audition at last week’s Tour Championship, as he was tied for 3rd after three rounds, but he shot 73 on the final day and tied for 9th. Would a better finish there have been enough? Who knows. At 11th, Bradley joins Young as the only players to finish in the top 12 of the Ryder Cup standings and not receive a pick.
Denny McCarthy, 14th in final standings
McCarthy didn’t win this year and has never been on a Ryder Cup or Presidents Cup team. He lost in a playoff at the Memorial for his only runner-up on the season, but he also had 14 top 25s and played well enough over the past couple of years to climb to 14th in the final Ryder Cup standings. His putting prowess made him an enticing pick. He finished last season third in Strokes Gained: putting, eighth in total putting and first in putting inside 10 feet. You know what wins match play? (Yep — putting.)
Lucas Glover, 16th in final standings
Other than Thomas, Glover was the player who earned the most will he/won’t he buzz toward the end of the season. He was hardly in the conversation in July, but he won the Wyndham Championship and FedEx St. Jude Championship in back-to-back weeks, forcing captain Johnson to wonder if he could pass on the hottest player on Tour. Glover cooled a little bit, ending the season T22 at the BMW and T18 at the Tour Championship. The 43-year-old pro played in Presidents Cups back in 2007 and 2009, but he’s still yet to be on a Ryder Cup team.
Tony Finau, 21st in final standings
While players like Kurt Kitayama (17th), Russell Henley (18th) and Harris English (20th) finished ahead of Tony Finau in the final Ryder Cup standings, Finau still seemed like he had a real shot up until a few weeks ago. He’s been a member of each of the last two Ryder Cup and Presidents Cup teams (6-5-3 record), but his play hasn’t been as consistent the second half of the year. He won the Houston Open last fall and the Mexico Open in April, but he finished better than 20th just once in the 11 starts after that victory. He ended his season with a T20 at the Tour Championship last weekend.