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Zach Johnson on Ryder Cup picks, LIV players: 'Lot of golf between now and then'

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PITTSFORD, N.Y. – U.S. Ryder Cup captain Zach Johnson said Wednesday that “it’s not even a discussion item” yet whom he might select for this year’s team – and that includes the possibility of a LIV player being on the 12-man roster.

“There’s maybe a couple guys that have come close to securing their spot in the top 6, but when it comes to picks, it’s not even on my radar,” Johnson said ahead of the PGA at Oak Hill. “Especially given how many points are still out there, I think it would be premature and almost irresponsible to even go into that. It’s not on my radar right now.”

Full-field tee times from the PGA Championship

European captain Luke Donald said earlier this week that he had a greater sense of clarity regarding his future options after European stalwarts like Lee Westwood, Sergio Garcia and Ian Poulter all resigned their DP World Tour membership, thus becoming ineligible to compete in the matches this fall.

Even after resigning their PGA Tour membership, American players on LIV are still eligible for the Ryder Cup. Their prospects of being among the six automatic qualifiers are slim – their only opportunity to earn points is at the remaining three majors – but they could still figure prominently among the wildcard selections.

Chief among those possibilities are Dustin Johnson and Brooks Koepka, both of whom were on the 2021 roster but have since defected for LIV. Johnson, who went 5-0 at Whistling Straits, won again last week at the LIV event in Tulsa, while Koepka has played well this spring and held the 54-hole lead at the Masters.

Though Zach Johnson said he travels only to the majors and PGA Tour events, he added that he’s not “oblivious” to the fractured landscape and knows the other players’ recent results.

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“The way I see it is, every guy that wants to make the U.S. Ryder Cup team should try to make the top 6,” he said.

Asked first specifically about Johnson, the captain said that it’s “really difficult to judge” those performances because he hasn’t seen DJ compete in person. LIV also doesn’t have the same depth of competition as the Tour, nor the same statistical information to assess a player’s current strengths.

“You’re talking about an individual whose resume is extremely deep and wide,” Johnson said of DJ. “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 or anybody’s true form that I can’t witness.”

Asked Wednesday if he'd want to be part of this year's Ryder Cup team, Dustin Johnson said, "Yes, I would definitely like to play in the Ryder Cup. It's one of my favorite events to play in, especially after the last Ryder Cup. Obviously had a pretty good week. And, yeah, it's just an awesome event; and yeah, I'd love to be a part of it."

As for Koepka, Johnson said that he “played really good that one week, but it’s one week” at Augusta National, where he wound up in a tie for second place. At No. 22, Koepka is the highest-ranked LIV players in the standings.

“There’s a lot of golf,” Johnson continued. “There’s a lot of golf between now and then.”

"If you win, go second, first, first, first, it would be kind of tough not to pick, right? If you go handle business, I feel like I should be fine," Koepka said on Wednesday. "But it's not up to me. It's up to Zach and what goes on. I just play my best and see what happens from there, but I would love to play for him."

The U.S. team will be finalized following the Tour Championship in late August.