Justin Thomas is headed to Italy for the Ryder Cup despite his woeful outings this year.
The Cup, which swings in this Friday and will continue through to Sunday, is a highly anticipated event. The competition typically garners worldwide attention, with the likes of mega-stars such as Michael Jordan and Steph Curry known to be huge fans.
Thomas’s Selection and Ryder Cup Record
Thomas, who hails from Louisville, Kentucky, was selected by U.S. captain Zach Johnson, who’s made him one of his six captain’s picks even after what he’s shown this year.
“Obviously, form is a part of our decision-making process; there are a number of elements in that process, and form is one of them,” Johnson explained.
“But so is fit for the golf course, fit for the team room, experience, and in my mind, when you are talking about [Thomas] specifically, he has passion and full confidence in [the Ryder Cup]. He is where he belongs.”
This year has been the worst of Thomas’s career. He could not make three of four majors, flunking out of the FedEx Cup Playoffs and the carded rounds in the 80s in the U.S. Open and Open Championship. He recorded a career-low three top 10s too.
Overall, it’s been an underwhelming period for the former world No. 1. Even so, his Ryder Cup record cannot be overlooked. Thomas has gone 6-2-1 in the tournament, which is one of the main reasons Johnson picked him.
“When it came down to it, it was a pretty easy pick,” Johnson pointed out. “Especially since the top six guys also took some ownership in the team.”
Thomas is very close to Tiger Woods, who refers to him as his “little brother.” It wouldn’t come as a surprise if we learned that the golfing icon called Johnson to put in a good word.
“He has been the heart and soul of Team USA,” he added. “In my mind, he was born for this, and you just don’t leave [Thomas] at home.”
Thomas’s involvement is sure to cause some buzz in his home state, but it comes a little too soon for sports betting in Kentucky as it doesn’t roll out until September 7. Fans from KY will be able to place bets on the next Ryder Cup, and they will appreciate that it comes right in time for the 2023/24 NFL season.
The top six players who previously qualified for the team are Scottie Scheffler, Wyndham Clark, Brian Harman, Patrick Cantlay, Max Homa, and Xander Schauffele. They all wanted Thomas to be part of the Ryder Cup.
“Forget about the Cup, I just want to see him play good golf,” Johnson said earlier this month. “And when JT plays good it’s good for everybody too. He is certainly, one of our assets on the PGA Tour. So yeah, we’ve been communicating.
Of the picks this year, only Rickie Fowler, Brooks Koepka, and Jordan Spieth trump Thomas when it comes to experience.
Thomas’s Ryder Cup Journey
The 30-year-old is also very good friends with Fowler and Spieth and their relationship should bode well for the team given the positive effects chemistry could have on a tourney. He gets along with everyone too.
Also working in the two-time PGA champion’s favor is that he has Ryder Cup experience on European soil. He played alongside Spieth in all four sessions on the Friday and Saturday at the 2018 event hosted by Le Golf National.
They built a 3-1 record against the European contingent before Thomas beat Rory McIlroy in the first singles match on Sunday, having combined for seven points with Spieth while the other 10 Americans combined for 3.5 points.
Thomas and Spieth would lose to Spaniards Jon Ram and Sergio Garcia in the opening match at Whistling Straits in 2021 but came back the following morning to beat Viktor Hovland and Bernd Wiesberger to give the Americans a 9-3 lead heading into the afternoon matches.
The duo have a 4-2 overall record when playing together and will likely look to build on that this year.
While Johnson’s decision to select Thomas has attracted some criticism, he really had no choice in the matter given all of the above.