Zach Johnson dismisses talk of LIV players on US Ryder Cup team as ‘premature’

Zach Johnson dismisses talk of LIV players on US Ryder Cup team as ‘premature’

Captain Zach Johnson insists the possibility of LIV players making the US Ryder Cup team is currently “not even a discussion item”.

American players remain eligible for the biennial contest despite being banned or resigning from the PGA Tour in the wake of joining the Saudi-funded circuit.

Six players will qualify automatically for the team and Johnson will select six wild cards, with Brooks Koepka (22nd) the highest-ranked LIV player following his share of second place in the Masters.

Asked ahead of the US PGA Championship how much he had thought about LIV players making the team, Johnson said: “We’re at a point right now where it’s not even a discussion item.

“There’s maybe a couple guys that have come close to securing their spot in the top six, but when it comes to picks it’s not even on my radar, especially given how many points are still out there, whether you’re talking about major championships or elevated events or all of the above.

“I think it would be premature and almost irresponsible to even go into that. It’s not on my radar right now.”

Johnson also stressed he would not be placing too much importance on Koepka’s performance at Augusta National, or the fact that Dustin Johnson won the latest LIV event in Tulsa.

Brooks Koepka
Brooks Koepka finished runner-up in the Masters last month (Amy Kontras/AP)

“He played really good that one week, but it’s one week,” Johnson said of Koepka. “He played great but there’s still a lot of golf between now and then.

“One of the factors that we’ve looked at over the years is what kind of form are the guys in when it gets close to the Tour Championship (August 24-27). I think that would be wise for me to look at.

“I remember playing really well one spring thinking, man, I’ve got this, I’m a shoo-in, and I didn’t make the team. There’s a lot of factors involved.”

Asked about his namesake’s form, Johnson added: “Really difficult for me to judge that. I don’t know the golf courses they’re playing. Never seen them. I’m not there on foot, in person.

Dustin Johnson won in Tulsa
Dustin Johnson won in Tulsa (Amy Kontras/LIV Golf via AP)

“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.”

Whoever does make the team, Johnson confirmed he will take all 12 players on a scouting mission to Marco Simone Golf and Country Club two and a half weeks before the Ryder Cup gets under way on September 29.