Everyone can afford to be polite on the Monday of Ryder Cup week. The two team captains, Luke Donald and Zach Johnson, were all charming and laughed at their inaugural press conference, but part of the fun is knowing that only one will come on Sunday night.
In the questions about the captain’s advice, pairings, the order of play, and in particular all the discussions about the players on the LIV tour who are not there this year, you could find clues about the intrigues that will shape the loser’s week.
Brooks Koepka is the only one who has done it on both sides, and it turns out that he flew to Rome alone, while the rest of the American team traveled together. “Given the time constraints and, I don’t know, the takeoff and landing time slots, it seemed like Brooks would meet us here at the best of time,” Zach Johnson said. “But if he had flown from Chicago to Atlanta and we were waiting for him and leaving, we would have got on much later. I don’t think it’s feasible at all. So he met us here.” The curious thing is that Koepka was here before the others.
Koepka came from the LIV event in Chicago, where he finished 24th, eight strokes behind the winner Bryson DeChambeau. It was dechambeau’s second win in the last three LIV events, and he went on to explain how hurt he was that Johnson hadn’t even bothered to tell him about the selection.
“It would have been nice to have at least had a phone call,” DeChambeau said. “There are a lot of people I think Zach should have called here, and we didn’t get it. It definitely stings a bit.”
Koepka, of course, has good form this Season. He finished second at the Masters that year and won the PGA championship. But this is not the only difference between them. DeChambeau also joined the antitrust lawsuit against the PGA Tour, Koepka never did. Johnson insisted it had nothing to do with it.
“We have a points system within the PGA of America, within the Ryder Cup USA. It’s pretty obvious how you can earn points and in which tournaments you can earn points,” Johnson said. “It was the top 25 guys in this points system who had my full attention.”
Donald had his own Version of it. Jon Rahm recently explained how disappointed he was that Sergio García was not involved this week, saying that it would be “stupid” not to use him. “Obviously we know the Situation with Sergio,” Donald said. “He ended his Situation five months ago, and when it happened, he was ineligible. I know there have been stories about him trying to pay some fines and such. But we know the rules of the DP World Tour, and if you resign, you will not be able to apply for membership again until the following year.”
At least one of them can expect to have to answer next Sunday the question of whether he will regret it again.