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US Ryder Cup captain Zach Johnson questions LIV golfers’ hopes for 2023 event

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US Ryder Cup team captain Zach Johnson has warned US golfers in the Saudi-backed LIV Golf International Series that they may not be selected for next year’s matches in Italy.

A total of 17 players were suspended by the PGA Tour ahead of LIV’s inaugural event in St. Albans, England earlier this month. Some players, including two-time major winner Dustin Johnson, have elected to resign from the tour, meaning they are no longer eligible to participate in tour events or the Presidents Cup.

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Other players, including Brooks Koepka and Bryson DeChambeau, have since joined LIV Golf, which will host its first U.S. event in Portland, Oregon, starting Thursday.

Speaking at a press conference ahead of the John Deere Classic at the TPC Deere Run, Zach Johnson was asked about the challenge of making the captain’s picks for the 2023 Ryder Cup.

“So what I do know is this: To play on the Ryder Cup team, whether you’re a top-six or a pick, you need to earn Ryder Cup points through the PGA of America.” , Johnson said. “To accumulate Ryder Cup points through the PGA of America, you must be a member of the PGA of America. We are members of the PGA of America through the PGA Tour. I’ll let you connect the points from there. “

Johnson, a 12-time tour winner and two-time major champion, pledged his loyalty to the PGA Tour but said he still had respect for golfers who defected.

“I have friends who decided to go this route,” he said. “I’m for a lot of people. I mean, they’re my friends. I’m for them. I want them to be successful. I want them to, you know, find contentment or happiness in anything. It’s not for me to say how it develops or how they find it. I will say that I have the utmost respect for them individually.”

Patrick Reed, whose nickname “Captain America” ​​stems from his performance in three Ryder Cup appearances, said he was considering not being selected for Team USA events, but added that his decision to join LIV Golf was good for his family.

” I thought about it [not being at the Ryder Cup or Presidents Cup]. Who wouldn’t?” Reed said ahead of this weekend’s LIV event. “But at the end of the day, I felt like when my family and I sat down and we got just weighed all our options, we were keen to join LIV Golf, especially after talking to some of the guys who played in London, that it was definitely the right decision. The right decision for us mainly mentally and physically. Just the quality of life. Being able to spend more time with the kids because that’s been the hardest thing.”

Neither European team captain Henrik Stenson nor the DP World Tour, formerly known as the European Tour, have commented on how they will handle the ongoing issue ahead of next year’s Ryder Cup matches. .

Longtime Ryder Cup players Ian Poulter, Sergio Garcia and Lee Westwood are among the European golfers who have joined LIV Golf. Earlier this month, the DP World Tour fined defaulting golfers £100,000 ($123,000) each and banned them from playing three co-sanctioned events with the PGA Tour.

Said Garcia, when asked if he knew before joining the LIV Series that it could impact his Ryder Cup eligibility: “You never knew how everyone was going to act. Obviously, you hoped it wouldn’t change. We still hope it won’t affect him.”

The 2023 Ryder Cup is set to take place at Marco Simone Golf and Country Club in Guidonia Montecelio, near Rome.

“I mean, why should he [Cup eligibility] be threatened?” Westwood said. “I’ve been playing Ryder Cup golf since 1997, and the criteria was being a member of the European Tour. From now on, the criterion for being a member of the European Tour is to play four events. Why should they change that now?

“I’ve been a member of the PGA Tour and I’ve always played four events on the European Tour, and why would the European Tour change its rules so drastically because another Tour doesn’t like it or feels financially threatened?There is just a little too much protection going on for my liking and not enough transparency.

“I think as long as you meet the criteria to be a member of the European Tour, you should always have the option of trying to qualify for the Ryder Cup team.”

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