Brooks Koepka and Dustin Johnson headline eight of the 12 Team USA spots for Ryder Cup

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With one month to go until the Ryder Cup in France, the first eight Team USA players have been confirmed following the conclusion of the PGA Championship.

With the top eight players selected from points gained at every PGA Tour event, WGC and major, the remaining four slots will be down to the team management over the next few weeks.

Here, we take a look at the players named in Jim Furyk’s squad.

BROOKS KOEPKA

A fascinating year for the 28-year-old. With a third major win in 14 months, he now surely deserves serious recognition among the golf public after his stunning victory at Bellerive. The World No2’s devastating game off the tee and razor-like short game has parachuted him into being the leading figure in the current crop of star players – and based on current from, he will be difficult to stop in France.

DUSTIN JOHNSON

The 33-year-old has the most complete game in the sport and will be a pivotal figure when America set out to retain their Ryder Cup title next month. The Florida resident has missed only one cut in 16 starts this year, including three top-5s, top-10s and three tournament wins. It may be another year without a major win for the best player in the world but Johnson has the tools and desire to improve further in 2019.

JUSTIN THOMAS

The World No3 may not be the same household name as Justin Spieth and Dustin Johnson, but has proven to be equally as influential. It’s hard to imagine the 25-year-old has yet to play in the Ryder Cup, despite a career to date in which he has won eight PGA Tour titles, the FedEX Championship and a major. With two top-5s, four top-10s, seven top-25s and two tournament wins this season, the Kentucky native will be a serious addition to Furyk’s side next month.

PATRICK REED

The Masters champion would have been part of the team regardless of his ranking, given his history in high pressure matches. He is unbeaten in singles (2-0-0) and fourballs (3-1-0) during his two Ryder Cup appearances. The 27-year-old has secured one top-5 and two top-10s in his 10 tournament starts since his triumph at Augusta. Has the confidence and potential to be a consistent top-10 ranked player for years to come.

BUBBA WATSON

The 39-year-old famously missed out on the 2016 edition despite holding a top-8 raking at the moment. Stepping in as a vice-captain, the Florida man used his presence to help the Americans to a first title since 2008. Four missed cuts in the last seven tournaments, including the Open and PGA Championship, will surely disappoint him but expect him to hit top form come golf’s premier match play competition.
JORDAN SPIETH

Results may have not gone his way over the past 12 months but the 24-year-old is still a three-time major winner. Has proven to be a force with Reed in their last two Ryder Cup appearances and if he can improve his putting – his biggest strength in previous years – then expect him to add to his 11 career Tour wins before September’s showpiece. Recent results may be off his overall expectations, but if Spieth can replicate his final round form at Bellerive, then he could be a serious force in the French capital.


RICKIE FOWLER

A career best second at the Masters earlier this year will have boosted the confidence of Fowler, who makes the team for a fourth time – at just 29. Has shown a penchant for heating up on the grand stage and will be bidding to better his 2-4-5 record in previous Ryder Cups. At present, his form looks solid, with three top-10s eight top-25s over his last 18 starts – including three missed cuts. Still chasing that elusive major win.

WEBB SIMPSON

The Players Championship winner has finished in the top-20 of each major this season. His win at Sawgrass was perhaps his finest as he jumped from 29 to nine in the Ryder Cup rankings. The 33-year-old will make his third appearance for America and looks to have hit a fine run of form at the right time ahead of next month’s showdown.

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Brooks Koepka shows his class and other takeaways from the PGA Championship

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Brooks Koepka held off a thrilling challenge from Tiger Woods to win the 100th PGA Championship in St Louis on Sunday.

Koepka carded a closing 66 in a stunning final round to finish 16 under par and two shots ahead of Woods, joining the runner-up, Gene Sarazen, Ben Hogan and Jack Nicklaus as the only players to win the US Open and US PGA in the same season.

After becoming the first player in 29 years to win back-to-back US Open titles in June, Koepka has now won three of his last six major starts, a wrist injury having forced him to sit out the Masters in April.

Here, we take a look at the five takeaways from the final major of the year.

Koepka shows his class

A fascinating year for the Florida man.

With a quality leaderboard breathing down his neck and the pressure of an advancing Woods, the 28-year-old held firm to shoot a scintillating 66 and clinch his third major and second of 2018.

The World No2 is shaping into a force, combining a devastating game off the tee with an razor-like short game. With another major to add to his mantelpiece, he now surely deserves serious recognition among the golf public after being underrated in the American game for so long.

Players like Jordan Spieth and Woods may be household names in the US, but Koepka certainly has a bright future in the game ahead of him. And with it being a Ryder Cup year, he has the chance to be one of Jim Furyk’s key lieutenants at Le Golf National next month as the Americans bid to defend their title on European soil.

Woods rises back to his best

An inspired showing from the American.

Woods began the final round four shots behind Koepka and was within a shot three times, but Koepka birdied the 15th and 16th before a wayward drive on the 17th cost Woods the chance of a birdie himself.

Remarkably, his 196 (66-66-64) in the last three rounds is his lowest score across three consecutive rounds in his major championship career.

It is still a stunning second-place finish for the 42-year-old who has recorded four top-five and four top-15 finishes in 2018, including a tie for sixth at the Open Championship last month

Winning a 15th major would be a fairytale way to seal one of the greatest comebacks in sporting history and recent form suggests he could well be in contention again in 2019.

Spieth’s disappointing year continues

The three-time major winner failed in his second quest to secure a career grand slam, finishing in a tie for 12th.

Although he may be disappointed to end the year without a major, the Texan showed signs of his remarkable talents with a final round 66 after three mixed rounds.

It’s been a mediocre year for the 24-year-old, with a disappointing ninth place at The Open where he held the lead after three rounds.

In addition, the right-hander has recorded two top-5, three top-10 and five top-25 finishes, including a win at the Tournament of Champions in January.

The results may be off his overall expectations, but if Spieth can replicate his final round form at Bellerive, then he could be a force for the FedEX playoffs and Ryder Cup.

Inconsistent DJ

It’s incredible how the American has been a favourite for every major this year but just can’t get the job done.

Fifth in gaining strokes off the tee this weekend, his normally classy iron and putting play was off colour and he was restricted to a T27 finish.

The World No1 was seven-under-par heading into the third round, but six bogeys and a double saw him move out of contention.

It perfectly summarises DJ’s season, with plenty of positives combined with a lot of negatives.

Another year without a major win for the best player in the world.

Poor TV coverage

Eleven Sports‘ coverage of the final major of the year proved to be a disaster, with an overload of commercials, poor commentary, bad shot selection of players and general production an embarrassment.

Their inconsistencies further proved how Sky Sports‘ production values remain unmatched, with nice shots always acknowledged if they are missed on camera at the time.

The producers even missed Koepka’s winning putt, with the link cutting out at midnight (3:00 UAE time).

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Brooks Koepka holds off Tiger Woods to capture third major title

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Brooks Koepka has admitted he finds it hard to comprehend his place in golfing history after his dramatic victory in the 100th US PGA Championship.

Koepka carded a closing 66 in a breathless final round at Bellerive Country Club to finish two shots ahead of Tiger Woods, joining the runner-up, Gene Sarazen, Ben Hogan and Jack Nicklaus as the only players to win the US Open and US PGA in the same season.

After becoming the first player in 29 years to win back-to-back US Open titles at Shinnecock Hills in June, Koepka has now won three of his last six major starts, a wrist injury having forced him to sit out the Masters in April.

“When I look at what I’ve done in the past two months, it’s incredible,” said Koepka, whose 16-under-par total of 264 set a new tournament record, beating the 265 set by David Toms in 2001.

“Looking where I was, sitting on my couch watching the Masters, and to think I would do this, I would have laughed at you and told you there was no way, no chance, and to do it is really incredible.

“My doctors, physios, trainers, everybody did an unbelievable job even to get me back out on the golf course, and to do what I’ve done is very impressive. I can’t even believe it.

“Three majors at 28, it’s a cool feeling. It really is. Hopefully I can stay healthy. I’ve kind of had some trouble with that over the past two or three years.

“I missed the British [Open in 2016] and then Augusta this year. I think I’m much more disciplined now so I should be able to play every major, making sure my body’s healthy.

“I’m excited for the next few years. I’m a fan of golf. I mean, Tiger’s come back. You look at what Dustin [Johnson] is doing, Justin [Thomas], Rory [McIlroy], [Jordan] Spieth. It’s a great time to be a golf fan. I can’t wait to duel it out with them over the next couple of years or next however long.”

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