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Ryder Cup vice-captain Fred Couples has claimed that his US team members were behind the controversial captain’s picks.
After Zach Johnson completed his line-up for Rome on Tuesday, the decision to select certain players has come under fierce scrutiny.
But Couples argues that players who are liked more by their teammates were more likely to earn one of six wildcards.
Speaking on Sirius XM PGA Tour Radio, the 63-year-old said: “I’ve got 50 texts today [about] why two or three guys aren’t on the team – and I don’t have an answer for that.
“The only answer I have is, this is the team, and the team has spoken.
“If the team likes another guy a little bit better than that guy who didn’t win six tournaments and do all this, then no one has a problem with any of it.”
With several players in with a chance of competing, Johnson opted for the experience of Justin Thomas, despite having a torrid season.
The 30-year-old has dropped outside of the world’s top 25 and missed the cut on five of his last eight starts.
His surprise inclusion has led many to label Team USA “Boys’ Club”, but Couples remained content with having Thomas on board.
He added: “I think the JT thing is the strongest pick. That was a no-brainer. The analytics would say no, the way he plays golf, said yes.
“One of the things JT can do is he can dissect the golf course. That’s what we’re counting on.”
While Jordan Spieth, Brooks Koepka, Collin Morikawa, and Rickie Fowler were expected to be involved, Sam Burns was handed the last contentious spot.
The 27-year-old match play champion edged out Keegan Bradley and Cameron Young.
Burns beat the latter in the final of the WGC event, and his omission comes just a month after Couples declared: “Cam Young will be in Italy.”
The vice-captain has since said that having to call Young kept him up at night and that his previous claim was “in jest”.
Bradley, who has won twice on the PGA Tour this season, shared his heartbreak immediately after Team USA was finalised.
He said: “I could tell by the response from Zach when I answered the phone that I wasn’t on the team. I’m super bummed out.”
The American wildcards joined Scottie Scheffler, Patrick Cantlay, Wyndham Clark, Brian Harman, Max Homa, and Xander Schauffele, who were already exempt.
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