Brooks Koepka’s automatic spot in the USA Ryder Cup squad is looking decidedly shaky with just one USA team qualifying event remaining this week on the PGA Tour.
Koepka currently lies fifth among the leading six in the USA Team standings, with the cut off coming at the close of this week’s BMW Championship at Olympia Fields and the all-important top six earning a place in Zach Johnson’s Rome side.
Johnson will then announce his six ‘wildcard’ picks the Sunday after next following the PGA Tour season-ending Tour Championship in Atlanta.
33-year-old Koepka is a veteran of the past three Ryder Cups and brilliantly put himself in frame for a fourth USA team cap with a runner-up finish earlier this year at the Masters and then capturing a fifth major and third PGA Championship a month later at Oak Hill.
Of course, it is the PGA of America who looks after the Ryder Cup in the US and not the PGA Tour, so it was their decision to allow LIV players to qualify automatically for the 2023 USA Team that will head to the Italian capital later this month.
After his impressive win at Oak Hill, Koepka moved from 22nd on the USA points table to second. Since then, the Smash GC team captain has slipped to his current fifth-place ranking.
Koepka, with 9,421.145 points is just 572,381 qualifying points clear of Max Homa in sixth place, with Xander Schauffler lying seventh on 8,830.260 points, while Jordan Speith, who was very much in contention last week in Memphis, lies eighth with 8,066.332 points. Then there’s Cameron Young in ninth with 7,795.308 and Collin Morikawa in 10th with 7,503.480.
Homa, Schauffler or Speith could drive off with victory in the BMW Championship and, if so, find themselves on the charter flight next month to Rome, possibly knocking Koepka out of automatic places in the process.
Koepka can do little but bite his nails and cross everything that he won’t be overtaken on the USA Team qualifying table and bumped outside the leading six.
If not, Koepka will qualify for an automatic pick but should it happen then Koepka is going to have to rely on a Johnson wildcard pick, but could Koepka’s LIV Golf status work against him? Some of his potential team mates don’t think it should.
“I want to win the Ryder Cup,” world number one Scottie Scheffler told Golf Channel earlier this year. “I don’t care about tours or anything like that. I want to win the Ryder Cup. It’s something we talked about last year when we finished — or I guess a year and a half ago now. We want to beat those guys in Europe. It’s been a long time since we’ve beat them.”
Koepka revealed earlier in the year that he’d had a conversation with team captain Johnson and got a better understanding of the processes and details involved.
“It was just hearing his perspective and all the stuff he’s got to do,” Koepka said. “The PGA of America does a really good job in easing it for him, and just kind of talking about the preparation for it, what our team is going to do, where are we going to be, and just a little bit more about the shuffle of guys and the stuff they have kind of behind the scenes, stats, stuff like that.
“It’s quite interesting just hearing about it all. I guess when you look at the standings, where guys are, versus – I guess some events don’t count at the end of last year. If you just equate all that as equal, [Johnson is looking at] where everybody would stand.”
Should Koepka be knocked out of the leading six on Sunday evening in Illinois, you would surely think that given he’s won three PGA Championships, the Ryder Cup in the US being administered by the same body, that Johnson is not going to punch Koepka’s ticket to Rome.
He’ll surely be there and could very well be the only LIV golfer of the 24.