US LIV talent, not on captain's radar, want Ryder Cup spots
United States Ryder Cup captain Zach Johnson said players from the LIV Golf League are "not on my radar" but would not shut down contact from anyone interested in facing Europe.
And two LIV stars -- four-time major winner Brooks Koepka and two-time major champion Dustin Johnson -- said Wednesday they would love to play for him in Italy next September.
On the eve of the PGA Championship at Oak Hill, Zach Johnson said he will only see players at majors and PGA Tour events as he assembles a 12-man squad to defend the trophy.
"It's not even a discussion item," Zach Johnson said when asked how much thought he gave to LIV talent on the US team. "It would be premature and almost irresponsible to even go into that. It's not on my radar right now."
Several big names left the PGA Tour for Saudi-backed LIV Golf last year and were banned by the tour, but major organizers, including US Ryder Cup administrators PGA of America, allow LIV players to compete.
Out of PGA events, LIV players will likely need one of Zach Johnson's six captain's picks to make the team.
Europe will lack Ryder Cup veterans Lee Westwood, Ian Poulter and Sergio Garcia, ruled ineligible by the DP World Tour after joining LIV.
Dustin Johnson, last week's LIV winner in Tulsa, has played on five US Ryder Cup teams, helping the Americans win in 2016 and going 5-0 for the 2021 team that routed Europe 19-9 at Whistling Straits.
Asked if Johnson is among the top 12 American players at the moment, Zach Johnson was unsure.
"Really difficult for me to judge that," Zach Johnson said. "I don't know the golf courses they're playing. Never seen them. I'm not there on foot, in person.
"(His) resume is extremely deep and wide. He's certainly, in my generation one of the best players I've ever competed against, but it's not fair for me to guess his true form."
He didn't, however, rule out LIV talent on the squad.
"You're talking about a number of guys that are my friends. I would fully embrace the opportunity to speak with them," Zach Johnson said.
"I'm an open book. They can call me. They have my number. I'm not going to sit here and say I'm shutting that down."
- DJ, Koepka want US spot -
The first knock at his door came from Dustin Johnson.
"I have no idea if I'd get picked," Dustin Johnson said. "If I continue to play really well for the rest of the year, then obviously there's a chance.
"Yes, I would definitely like to play in the Ryder Cup. It's one of my favorite events.
"I've known Zach for a long time, so I'm sure he's keeping an eye on things... play well in the next three majors and just play some good, solid, consistent golf from here on out the rest of the year who knows what will happen."
Koepka was a runner-up at last month's Masters and on the 2021 US squad as well, going 2-2.
"I haven't really seen where he's at since Augusta. He played really good that one week, but it's one week," Zach Johnson said.
Koepka hopes to play well enough to make Zach consider him.
"It would be awesome to represent the United States. Anytime we do it, it's always fun," Koepka said. "But it's not up to me. It's up to Zach and what goes on.
"It's tough to be in Zach's mind or where he is at, but I would love to make it hard on him. I think that would be cool. The only thing I can do is go play good. If I play good, everything takes care of itself."