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US vice-captain Fred Couples admits that all the data pointed towards leaving Justin Thomas out of the Ryder Cup team.

Speaking on his own SiriusXM radio show after the wildcard announcements, Couples explained how the former world No.1’s stellar record in team competitions swayed Zach Johnson’s call.

Johnson named Thomas, Brooks Koepka, Jordan Spieth, Rickie Fowler, Collin Morikawa and Sam Burns as his six captain’s picks for the upcoming showdown near Rome.

• The big names Johnson snubbed for the Ryder Cup 

• Jon Rahm’s live reaction to Thomas Ryder Cup pick

That mean’t that the likes of Cameron Young and Keegan Bradley missed out on the 12-man taking on Europe in Marco Simone.

The inclusion of Thomas was the most contentious given the 30-year-old’s malaise, which has seen him drop outside the world’s top-25 and miss cuts on five of his last eight starts.

But Couples, who is a Ryder Cup assistant for a third time, has broken down why Thomas is such an important asset for Johnson’s team.

“The analytics would say no [but] the way he plays golf said yes,” Couples said. [He has a] record of 16-5-3 (across Ryder Cups and Presidents Cups) which is a record that not many people have.

“One of the things, according to Jim Furyk who I sat with at Whistling Straits, we didn’t play the course in Paris they way it should’ve been played. JT did.

• Thomas labelled “total liability” after Ryder Cup pick

• Bradley “super bummed’ to miss out on wildcard

“JT will play this golf course like it should be played. And that’s not to say whoever we picked wouldn’t.

“What’s to say is one of the things JT can do is dissect the golf course. So, he’s going to get the ball in play and [some might say], ‘Oh he’s driving it poorly’. Well, when he gets there he’ll get the ball in play. And that’s what we’re counting on.”

Couples, meanwhile, found himself in an awkward position on Tuesday after the omission of world No.17 Young, who he had seemingly assured a plane ticket to Rome.

Just last month, the former Masters champion said “Cam Young will be in Italy”, and Johnson was forced to explain his assistant’s comments after the 26-year-old was left out.

“Yeah, I know what was said, but I think that was a while back,” he said. “It was kind of in jest. It is what it is.

“It did keep me up at night having to make those phone calls, specifically Cam. Phenomenal player, better person. He was nothing but class.”


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Ben Parsons joined bunkered as a Content Producer in 2023 and is the man to come to for all of the latest news, across both the professional and amateur games. Formerly of The Mirror and Press Association, he is a member at Halifax Golf Club and is a long-suffering fan of both Manchester United and the Wales rugby team.

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