Justin Thomas has been in poor form in 2023, but he is a different beast in the team format. Will Zach Johnson take him to Rome?
Team USA captain Zach Johnson has some tough decisions to make when picking his team for the Ryder Cup and none more so than whether he chooses Justin Thomas.
Thomas has been in poor form this year. He missed the FedEx Cup Playoffs after finishing 71st in the points standings.
He also had more rounds in the 80s at the majors than he made cuts – two 80s to one cut made.
It leaves Johnson with a difficult choice as to whether to give JT a plane ticket to Rome.
“I told him that I don’t know what’s in store, but obviously he is still in consideration,” Johnson said on the SubPar Podcast.
“He has been a part of Team USA since 2017. Guys want to be around him, he is great in the locker room. Obviously, what he has done inside the ropes at these Cups has been well documented. His resume speaks for itself.
“At the same time, I have also got to look at the other factors involved. Whether you’re talking about the golf course, and horses for courses, that kind of thing.
“We are still getting into that with the stats and the data crunching. Then you have to look at form too. A lot of nuances, a lot of heavy weighted topics.
“He knows that he can call me anytime, and we can have an open line of communication. He has been fantastic and so has everybody else.”
Thomas has been incredible in team competitions, winning 16 points across his Ryder Cup and Presidents Cup outings.
His partnership with Jordan Spieth would arguably be the most feared by Team Europe, thanks to their exploits in Paris in 2018. The pair also went 4-0 in the Presidents Cup at Quail Hollow last year.
“Very good friend of mine. When you have somebody of that talent and of that character, you don’t want to see them struggle,” the US captain continued.
“Forget about the [Ryder] Cup, I just want him to play good golf. When JT plays good golf, it is good for everybody. He is one of our assets on the PGA Tour.
“We have been communicating. I have kept – and I would hope that he understands, and he does – open minds. We are keeping the honesty train going, we’re going to leave it all out there.”
Who will make the final decisions?
Johnson will not be alone when he does make his six picks for his 12-man team that will travel to Rome.
Stewart Cink, Fred Couples, Jim Furyk, Davis Love III and Steve Stricker are the five men he will work with when making a decision.
“My vice captains, a lot of wisdom there, lot of experience, lot of knowledge there. There’s a lot of experience so I heavily rely on them,” Johnson added.
“Those guys, even though they’re not playing week in week out, Stewart [Cink] is, they know these young guys because they’ve been around them.
“There is a reason why those guys are going to go over to Rome with me, so yeah, I heavily rely on them.”
The two-time major champion also suggested that the six automatic qualifiers will have their say as well.
The cut-off comes after this week’s BMW Championship with Scottie Scheffler and Wyndham Clark having already secured their spots in the team.
“I would say, the impact, the perceptions, opinions and feelings of the six guys that make this team are imperative, it’s crucial and essential,” he said.
“This is their team, and they need to have direct ownership in it. I have said it, if we win this, if the United States wins this, it is the 12 guys who have won it.
“I could argue that if we lose it, it can be thrown on me. I know that, I signed up for it, but if we win it, it ain’t me winning it! I need their impact, their opinions and I need them to voice how they see it coming together in Rome, as a team.
“I don’t know who the top six are. I know who two are, in Scottie Scheffler and Wyndham Clark. I have already communicated with them a fair amount and more will come. They are invested, they want it and they are hungry, so that’s a start!”
Will Team USA do the job in Europe for the first time this Century? Will Zach Johnson pick Justin Thomas for the Ryder Cup? Let us know your thoughts with a Tweet!