‘A crime’: Tour winners criticize controversial Ryder Cup snub
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On Monday, September 4, European Ryder Cup captain Luke Donald announced his six captain’s picks for this year’s team, ending weeks of speculation over who would make the cut. But one of Europe’s most accomplished players was left out.
Tommy Fleetwood, Justin Rose, Sepp Straka, Shane Lowry, Ludvig Aberg and Nicolai Hojgaard were tapped by captain Donald to join the European side in Rome.
The first four names attracted little criticism given their proven track records, especially at this year’s majors. But the same was not true for the name at the end of the list.
Hojgaard is an up-and-coming Danish pro who spends most of his playing time on the DP World Tour. He has a promising future, and at just 22 years old, he’s already captured two DP World Tour wins.
But the last came back in February 2022 at the Ras Al Khaimah Championship.
Hojgaard has been playing well lately, which was Donald’s reason for the pick.
“Part of my having six picks was I wanted some very in-form players,” Donald said during the televised captain’s pick announcement. “And what he did the last two weeks was very, very special.”
The problem is one of the other players Donald was considering arguably has a much more impressive resume.
Adrian Meronk, a 30-year-old pro from Poland, has three DP World Tour victories in his career, one better than Hojgaard. Furthermore, all three of those victories came after Hojgaard’s most recent win, including this May at the DS Automobiles Italian Open. The host course for that event? None other than Marco Simone, the exact course that will host the Ryder Cup in September.
Meronk is ranked 51st in the Official World Golf Ranking, one place away from earning tee times in all four majors next year. Hojgaard’s ranking? 78th.
But Meronk was left out and will now be watching from the comfort of his own home, and the snub did not go unnoticed in the golf social media world.
One person who didn’t take kindly to Donald’s decision was two-time PGA Tour winner Paul Goydos, who called Meronk’s snub a “crime.”
While he had an impressive career of his own, Goydos is an American who played the role of assistant captain for the 2010 U.S. team — not exactly the first person the European team would look to for advice.
The same cannot be said for Ian Woosnam. Woosnam is a Masters champion who won twice on the PGA Tour and 29 times on the DP World Tour in his career, which puts him in sixth on the all-time wins list. Even more relevant is the fact that Woosnam played on eight European Ryder Cup teams and captained the 2006 squad to victory.
It would be difficult to argue that his opinion doesn’t matter, and his opinion is that Meronk should have made the team. In a reply to a X post from a popular golf account, Woosnam wrote, in part, “I’m very sad to see he’s missed a captains pick.”
Elsewhere on X, the NUCLR Golf account posted its own protest over the Meronk snub, and that got a reply from six-time PGA Tour winner and three-time U.S. Ryder Cup team member Hunter Mahan, who wrote simply, “Makes zero sense.”
The U.S. team experienced some controversy of its own the week before when U.S. captain Zach Johnson announced his own picks. Among them was two-time PGA champion Justin Thomas, who struggled mightily in 2023, which drew a hefty amount of blowback.
Despite the criticism, Thomas and Hojgaard will be teeing it up in Rome in a few weeks’ time, and final preparations are well underway. The 2023 Ryder Cup officially begins September 29.