The US Ryder Cup Wildcards: A Deep Dive into the Stars Who Will Represent the Red, White, and Blue

The Ryder Cup, golf’s most celebrated team event, has a way of transforming individual talents into national heroes. The competition often brings out the best—and sometimes the worst—in players as they vie for glory, not just for themselves but for their countries. When it comes to the U.S. Team, much of the focus falls on the wildcard selections, those players who didn’t automatically qualify but were handpicked to join the squad. 

This year’s selections are an eclectic mix of proven winners, rising stars, and sentimental favorites, each with his own strengths and weaknesses. There were a couple of surprises from the players chosen and those left off the team. Here’s an in-depth look at the six wildcard picks, joining Scottie Scheffler, Wyndham Clark, Patrick Cantlay, Xander Schauffele, Brian Harman, and Max Homa on the 2023 U.S. Ryder Cup team.

Justin Thomas: The Balanced Prodigy

When talking about surprises, this one probably raised the most eyebrows. It’s not that Thomas isn’t talented–he is a name that’s well-known inside and outside the golfing community. A player of remarkable consistency, Thomas brings a solid all-around game to the table. When he’s at his best, his ball-striking is top-notch, and his putting game is equally formidable. A proven winner on the PGA Tour with 15 wins, including two major championships, Thomas brings experience to the U.S. team, as this will be his third consecutive Ryder Cup.

All this being said, Thomas has had a horrible 2023 season. In his last 12 events, he has six missed cuts, his best finish being a T9. He also missed cuts in three of the four majors and failed to qualify for the FedEx Cup Playoffs. He combined to shoot 25-over par in four total rounds at the U.S. Open and Open Championships this past summer (the winning scores combined to score -23). However, captain Zach Johnson believes in chemistry and camaraderie, and Thomas is one of the most well-liked and respected guys on Tour, and golfers love playing with him. He’s the perfect teammate, and his resume speaks for itself, making him a solid selection. 

Brooks Koepka: The Majestic Powerhouse

When Zach Johnson left the door open to selecting a LIV player, Koepka became an obvious choice. The five-time major champion exudes an aura of invincibility, especially when he’s in contention. Koepka is a big-game player, revered for his power off the tee and his steel nerves in high-pressure situations. 

Interestingly, despite his illustrious track record in majors, fluctuating golf majors betting odds often reflect the inconsistencies brought on by his recent injuries. It’s been a roller coaster ride for Koepka since his 2019 PGA win, but he feels his win at this year’s PGA Championship should silence the doubters about his health. Like Thomas, Koepka brings a lot of experience, as he will be making his fourth Ryder Cup appearance.

Jordan Spieth: The Resilient Maestro

Once a world number one, Spieth is a three-time major champion with a knack for creative shot-making. His mental toughness is legendary, a trait that can be a significant advantage in the emotionally charged Ryder Cup atmosphere. Regarded as a great team player with plenty of experience, Spieth brings the kind of chemistry you want in a teammate.

However, Spieth has been striving to overcome a slump over the past few years. Every time he seemingly pulls out of it and looks like his old self, he enters another struggle. It’s been nearly 18 months since Spieth last won on the PGA Tour. However, his 7-5-2 Ryder Cup record can’t be discounted; expect to see him a lot in Four-balls, where he is 5-1-0.

Collin Morikawa: The New Kid on the Block

Morikawa is the epitome of a rising star. With two major championships already to his name at such a young age, Morikawa’s golfing future seems exceedingly bright. His skill with irons and his ability to sink clutch putts could be invaluable to the U.S. Team. He has just one Ryder Cup appearance, but he shined, finishing with a 3-0-1 record in 2021 and helping his team recapture the Cup.
Morikawa has been a bit erratic since his Open Championship win in 2021, which also represents his last PGA win. He’s fallen down the world rankings after a difficult season. However, he ended the season on a good note, finishing in the top-5 in two of his final five tournaments, including The Tour Championship.

Sam Burns: The Emerging Maverick

Another young talent, Burns has showcased remarkable potential on the PGA Tour. Noted for his impressive length off the tee and aggressive playing style, Burns brings a fresh energy to the team. While he is undoubtedly talented, his lack of experience on the grand stage of the Ryder Cup is a concern, as is his recent play. Burns has just one top-10 in his last nine events. He also has been a non-factor in majors, his best finish being a T29 this year. It’s a bit of a gamble, and some thought Lucas Glover, Tony Finau, or Keegan Bradley should have been used with this pick. But Burns will look to prove the doubters wrong.

Rickie Fowler: The People’s Champion

This was probably the least surprising of the six selections. Fowler, a charismatic figure and a fan favorite, has bounced back with a phenomenal 2023 season. With a wardrobe as vibrant as his personality, Fowler has represented the U.S. in the Ryder Cup on four previous occasions. Known for making birdies when they’re needed most, he brings a wealth of experience to this year’s team. 

However, Fowler has not played well in previous Ryder Cups. He has a 3-7-5 record in the competition. But Fowler feels he has turned the page on his underachieving past and is seeking to help Captain Johnson and his country retain the Cup.

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