Here’s what Jack Nicklaus thinks about captain Zach Johnson picking Brooks Koepka for US Ryder Cup team

by Joanne Miller

Jack Nicklaus Weighs in on Brooks Koepka Being Picked for the US Ryder Cup Team

After playing in six Ryder Cups, Jack Nicklaus twice captained the United States team. Nicklaus, though, never had the dilemma of picking players from a league that started as a bitter competitor to the PGA Tour — and may be partnering with the tour in the future after the surprise announcement in June that the two leagues have a framework agreement to merge.

But current U.S. captain Zach Johnson was in that position this summer with LIV Golf, which started in 2022 as a rival and an antagonist to the PGA Tour. Johnson ultimately decided one LIV golfer, Jupiter’s Brooks Koepka, was worthy of joining the U.S. team, despite an LIV roster that included several others with Ryder Cup experience.

Nicklaus agrees with Johnson’s decision.

“I think he deserved to be on the team,” Nicklaus, the 83-year-old Hall of Famer from North Palm Beach, told The Palm Beach Post.

“Yes, no question. He played very well. He played very well in very important tournaments. He got beat out the last tournament for the automatic spot, but he still deserved to be picked.”

Koepka was one of six golfers added by Johnson to complete the 12-man team after narrowly missing out on one of the six automatic spots. He will be part of the team that faces Europe Sept. 29-Oct. 1 at Marco Simone Golf & Country Club in Rome based on his play in the majors.

Koepka was runner-up at the Masters in April before winning the PGA Championship one month later. He also finished T17 at the U.S. Open. The win at the PGA in Rochester, New York, was Koepka’s fifth major, more than any golfer on either the U.S. or European team.

“He’s built, in my mind, for the biggest of stages and there is no bigger stage than the Ryder Cup,” Johnson said the day he announced the selection. “His record shows that. His buddies wanted him on the team.”

Koepka rose as high as No. 2 in the Ryder Cup points list after winning the PGA but was edged out of the top six automatic spots on the final weekend. He will be playing in his fourth Ryder Cup.

Four months ago, Nicklaus said he doesn’t “consider those guys part of the game anymore” when asked about LIV golfers. Now, he believes Koepka deserves to represent the country in the Ryder Cup, but no one else from LIV Golf.

“I don’t think there’s anybody else (from LIV) that deserved to be picked,” he said.

Nobody else was close to making the team, including Jupiter’s Dustin Johnson, who has played on five Ryder Cup teams, and two years ago, at Whistling Straits, became the first American to go 5-0 in a single Ryder Cup competition in 42 years.

Koepka joined LIV Golf in the summer of 2022. Playing in the league not only limited Koepka’s chances to earn Ryder Cup points, but PGA Tour players who defected to the Saudi Arabia-funded tour were thought of by many as sellouts who sacrificed loyalty and legacy for money and became accomplices in the kingdom’s attempts at “sportswashing” its atrocious human rights violations.

In conclusion, Jack Nicklaus, one of the greatest golfers of all time, supports Zach Johnson’s decision to select Brooks Koepka for the US Ryder Cup team. While LIV Golf may have been seen as a rival and antagonist to the PGA Tour, Nicklaus believes Koepka’s performance in important tournaments and his strong record make him deserving of a spot on the team. However, Nicklaus does not believe anyone else from LIV Golf deserved to be picked. It will be interesting to see how Koepka performs in the Ryder Cup and if his selection proves to be a valuable decision for Team USA.

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