Dustin Johnson believes he should have been selected for Team USA for the Ryder Cup in Rome in two weeks and claims he was only passed over because of his membership in the LIV Golf League.
At the final biennial clash of 2021, Johnson became the first American to win five out of five points in 42 years and after joining LIV 15 months ago, Johnson went on to win the £15m individual first prize in season one of the separatist circuit.
However, he was meanwhile ineligible to earn PGA Tour qualifying points because of the ban on enlisting in the Saudi Arabia-funded venture and because his results in the majors this year – he finished 10th at the US Open but bottom to the field in the other three – Johnson finished 40th in the Ryder Cup standings.
Zach Johnson chose Dustin’s LIV colleague Brooks Koepka after finishing seventh on the points list thanks to his victory at the US PGA and second place at the Masters. But otherwise the American skipper admitted having ignored the results in LIV.
Instead, he chose another former world No. 1 in Justin Thomas, despite this other two-time major champion missing the cuts at the Masters, US Open and Open in 2023 and finishing 65th at the USPGA.
This inevitably led critics to question why Thomas was cast based on reputation and not Dustin Johnson. The latter obviously wonders the same thing.
“I would love to be a part of the team,” Dustin said. “But did I play well enough to make the team? Yes. I haven’t had the best year. Was he good enough to make the team? I think so. If I had continued playing [the PGA Tour], yes, I would have been part of the team. I think I can help the US team? Absolutely.”
Zach Johnson revealed he didn’t call anyone lower than 25th in the rankings when it came to breaking the news of his six wildcards, but namesake Dustin says he’s in contact with the captain who will attempt to lead an American team to his first victory on European soil in 30 years.
“He’s a good friend of mine. So yes, we talked,” Johnson told the Palm Beach Post, the newspaper of the town where not only he lives but also Rory McIlroy, Tiger Woods and most of the top players. “I told him I would like to be part of But like I said, not being on the Tour, I needed to play really well.
“If I would have played a little better in the majors, I think I definitely would have had a really good chance. But I struggled a little bit in the majors this year, which happens. When you’ve been part of a team for the last 12-14 years, you want to be part of it because they’re big events.
Should the visitors lose again away from home, Zach Johnson’s decisions will obviously come under intense scrutiny, which adds further pressure to the biennial dispute that begins at the Marco Simone Golf and Country Club a fortnight on Friday.
All this must cheer up Luke Donald no end. Europe’s captain will play at the BMW PGA Championship, which begins at Wentworth on Thursday, alongside his entire dozen for the showdown in the Italian capital.
Donald elected some controversial wildcards last week, with Poland’s Adrian Meronk being snubbed in favor of Denmark’s Nicolai Hojgaard, who at 22 is the youngest Ryder Cup pick in 34 years. But Rory McIlroy is adamant that Donald was right to make history by bringing Ludvig Aberg into the fold as the most inexperienced player in the event’s 96-year history, having played just nine tournaments as a professional.
“I played with Ludvig for the first time on Monday [at Europe’s scouting trip to the Rome layout],” McIlroy said about the 23-year-old Swede. “I told him, ‘I couldn’t wait.’ Well, he probably exceeded my expectations. Before I was on the bandwagon and now I’m definitely in the front row.” Aberg and Viktor Hovland beat McIlroy and Tommy Fleetwood 3 and 2 in the four-ball match.
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