2023 Ryder Cup Odds, Predictions: 16 Potential U.S. Captain’s Picks, Including Collin Morikawa & Jordan Spieth

2023 Ryder Cup Odds, Predictions: 16 Potential U.S. Captain’s Picks, Including Collin Morikawa & Jordan Spieth article feature image

Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images. Pictured: Collin Morikawa

ATLANTA — So, here’s the deal: This is a column about Ryder Cup captain’s picks — specifically, the U.S. Ryder Cup team’s captain’s picks and more specifically, these impending decisions, which will be announced next Tuesday.

I’d like to believe we’re all intelligent consumers of the professional golf product and can discuss this topic in rational terms, because there are a whole lot of people out there who can’t seem to do that.

In listening to various analyses of potential selections, I keep hearing phrases like, “This player doesn’t deserve it,” or “He didn’t earn it.”

Well, yeah. That’s sort of the whole point.

You know who deserves it and earned it? Scottie Scheffler, Wyndham Clark, Patrick Cantlay, Brian Harman, Max Homa and Xander Schauffele — the six players who, by the most literal definition, earned their way onto the team by qualifying.

That leaves six more players to be named to the roster by U.S. captain Zach Johnson, and as I tweeted recently, the intrigue surrounding these picks are akin to that of a gender reveal party.

There are only a finite number of options, so we shouldn’t be too surprised when the puff of smoke offers up an answer.

Unnecessary spoiler alert: Each of the six captain’s picks will be a really talented professional golfer.

I have to say, though, there are again a lot of people out there — not you guys; you’re great — who can’t seem to wrap their minds around the main objective.

The captain shouldn’t be trying to identify the next six players who have played the best golf this year. If that was the point, the qualification process could’ve just gone 12-deep.

Instead, he should be seeking those who can best help the team win next month in Rome.

If we’ve learned anything in the Golden Age of legalized sports gaming, it’s the old Wall Street axiom, which states that past performance is not an indicator of future success.

Of course, that can become a sticky Catch-22 when you’re considering one player who didn’t qualify for the playoffs and not considering others who are competing in the Tour Championship this week.

That leads to one more thought the captain and his cabinet of assistants should be considering: Every player has to fill a role.

Since we’re also in fantasy football season, let me break it down into terms any team owner can understand. Let’s say you draft Patrick Mahomes in the opening round. That might be a bit too early based on the recommendations of my Action Network colleagues (shameless plug!), but you can at least rationalize it. He’s a great player.

Let’s say you follow that pick by taking Josh Allen in the second round. Another great pick, right? Then Jalen Hurts in the third, Lamar Jackson in the fourth and Justin Herbert in the fifth.

Wow. That’s five absolute superstars on your team. Congratulations! There’s just one little problem and I bet you’ve caught it already. Five QBs is no way to draft, for the undeniable reason that they all fill the same role.

All of which brings us right back to the Ryder Cup.

We’re less than a decade removed from Tom Watson serving as U.S. captain and essentially imploring his players to just play better and win. Solid point, but it didn’t work. That led to a task force, which has quickly led to more success – on home soil, at least.

The upcoming edition of the Ryder Cup marks 30 years since the last time the U.S. won in Europe. We already know half the team.

That leaves the question of who should be picked for the final six spots. But who will be picked? Those are two very different questions. Let’s break them down, with odds from bet365 on all potential selections.

GolferOdds to Be U.S. Captain's Pick
Jordan SpiethOff the Board
Collin Morikawa-1000
Rickie Fowler-700
Brooks Koepka-700
Cameron Young-600
Justin Thomas-350
Sam Burns+110
Keegan Bradley+175
Russell Henley+250
Tony Finau+300
Lucas Glover+350
Dustin Johnson+700
Bryson DeChambeau+1000
Sahith Theegala+1600
Talor Gooch+2000
Patrick Reed+2000

Jordan Spieth: Off the Board

Should He Be a Captain’s Pick?

It’s been another wild, whirlwind year for Jordan Spieth. Others can look equal parts mercurial and lost within the span of a few months; he can accomplish all of this within the framework of a back-nine.

Even so, he’s done enough to be selected – so much so that bet365 isn’t even offering odds on him being named to the team.

Will He Be a Captain’s Pick?

I guess we probably can’t even joke these days about team members betting on their own Ryder Cup outcomes, but if Johnson is somehow leaving Spieth off this roster, he might want to run to a few betting windows first. Why? Because he can undoubtedly get a pretty big number on that side of it.

Collin Morikawa: -1000

Should He Be a Captain’s Pick?

He’s hardly had his best stuff this season, which speaks volumes of a guy who still ranks fourth on the PGA Tour tee-to-green and second in iron play. The putter is always going to be the biggest X-factor for Collin Morikawa, but he has some history on his side – specifically, Europe’s history.

Remember four years ago when Le Golf National was set up for precision play to appeal to the home team’s skill set? Don’t be surprised if Marco Simone is prepared similarly, which could be perfect for Morikawa’s game.

Will He Be a Captain’s Pick?

At -1000, the oddsmakers certainly think so, and it’s difficult to think they’re wrong. A summer filled with mediocre results (by his standards) might have Johnson hopeful he was playing better, but not worried enough to keep him off the roster.

Rickie Fowler: -700

Should He Be a Captain’s Pick?

Back in 2010, Rickie Fowler ranked 20th on the points list but was named to the U.S. team over several others who were ranked higher. Since then, he’s earned a public reputation as a player who receives his selection based on a popularity contest.

But that’s simply not true.

Of his three subsequent competitions, he qualified for two and was chosen in 2016 after finishing 11th on the points list. There might be some backlash against Rickie receiving the third captain’s pick of his career, but haters gonna hate.

He'll help this team.

Will He Be a Captain’s Pick?

Along with Spieth, this might be one of the easier decisions for Johnson. Fowler has flashed a high ceiling, but his floor has remained consistently high throughout the year.

Brooks Koepka: -700

Should He Be a Captain’s Pick?

Let’s see … he only received points for eight events (four majors last year, four this year) and yet, it still took until the final week of the qualification process for him to fall out of the top six — and even then, it barely happened.

If we’re basing Brooks Koepka’s inclusion solely on performance and whether he can help this team win, putting him on the roster is a no-brainer. Any innuendo that there will be bad blood in the team room because he plays for a different tour is absurd.

Will He Be a Captain’s Pick?

There are two pre-tournament decisions which will define Johnson’s captaincy. I’ll get to the other one soon enough. This one will only receive international headlines if the captain chooses to leave Koepka at home — and if he does, it will be a politically charged decision, considering Johnson’s PGA Tour loyalties and the fact that Koepka plays for LIV Golf.

Maybe if he hadn’t won the PGA of America’s own major championship, it would be easier to rationalize omitting him, but based on performance, such a move would reek of sour grapes.

I also don’t think it’ll happen. Expect Brooks to be the lone LIV player on the team.

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Cameron Young: -600

Should He Be a Captain’s Pick?

It’s hard not to like the second-year PGA Tour member’s game, as he’s racked up top-five finishes at an impressive rate over the past two years. However, not a single one of those has come since March and finishes of T-31 and T-15 in the first two playoff events left him out of the Tour Championship.

Perhaps hurting Cameron Young the most, though, is the lack of intangibles. He’s not a presence who'll be sorely missed if he’s not there, he doesn’t have a natural partner on the roster and he doesn’t have experience in this competition.

I can go either way on this one, but it certainly isn’t difficult to see a path where six other players emerge who own more specific roles on this team.

Will He Be a Captain’s Pick?

Despite the price next to his name, this is a much heavier decision than it seems. I think these odds are largely based on assistant captain Fred Couples’ insistence a few weeks ago that certain players would be in Rome, and Young would be one of them.

But things can change in a hurry.

I’d put this one at 50/50 right now and being out of sight/out of mind certainly isn’t helping his chances this week.

Justin Thomas: -350

Should He Be a Captain’s Pick?

Ah, we’ve finally come to the most polarizing of the decisions — a player with a 6-2-1 record in two previous Ryder Cup appearances, but one who failed to break 80 in a couple of major championship rounds and didn’t advance to the FedEx Cup playoffs.

There’s no potential selection in the past decade that best embodies the ideas that I wrote about above — that this is less about identifying the players who've played the best and more about pinpointing those who can help the team win.

Nobody on this roster has a more defined role than Justin Thomas, who'll serve as the fiery team leader, a worthy companion for Spieth and the engine that gets the motor running.

His ugliest scores and missed cuts were often due to making a big number, which doesn’t hurt nearly as much in match play; he still ranked 33rd in birdie average this season.

Not only should he be on the team, don’t be surprised if JT turns around his entire year by leading the U.S. squad in points, too.

Will He Be a Captain’s Pick?

There are two ways this decision will define Johnson’s captaincy: if he picks Thomas, and he plays poorly and the team loses, it'll be on the captain as much as the player.

And if he doesn’t pick Thomas, and the team struggles to find its identity and loses, it'll again be on the captain for his decision.

All of that said, it’s still tough to believe JT won’t be part of this team.

And if we’re looking for a tell, he recently committed to the Fortinet Championship, which will be played Sept. 14-17 — two weeks after the captain’s picks are announced and two weeks before the Ryder Cup.

Sure, he could be playing to accrue points for next year or just to get the bad taste out of his mouth from this season, but we can certainly try to connect some dots and believe this might serve as prep after not playing any competitive rounds for over a month.

Sam Burns: +110

Should He Be a Captain’s Pick?

The last few weeks in professional golf have been all about players on the bubble, and there might not be anyone more bubbly — so to speak — than Sam Burns, who could be firmly standing on the line of demarcation.

Speaking on SiriusXM PGA Tour Radio’s “Gravy and the Sleeze,” he said, “Going out there and playing really well this week would definitely be a good thing, but I don’t think this week necessarily holds as much weight, maybe, as the past three months, but obviously going out and playing well never hurts.”

He’s not wrong about the last part, but there’s a chance this week could mean more for him than he realizes — or at least, than he's letting on.

Being buddies (and a potential partner) with Scheffler and winning this year’s WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play are a couple of very nice cards up his sleeve.

Will He Be a Captain’s Pick?

Depending on what time of day you could get Johnson on the truth serum, Burns might either be 12th or 13th on his list, which is the entire difference between competing in Rome and watching at home on TV.

Other decisions will be more polarizing, but this one might be the toughest.

It could come down to Burns or Young — and if it does, I think the captain would favor the former.

Keegan Bradley: +175

Should He Be a Captain’s Pick?

Look, if I’m in charge, I want to add the six players who care the most, who inspire the most passion and who burn to win.

It’s impossible to argue that Keegan Bradley isn’t one of those six.

In another year, with fewer candidates, he’s an easy selection, but intensity might not be enough to make this roster.

Will He Be a Captain’s Pick?

After winning the Travelers Championship two months ago, it seemed like Keegan had an inside track on being named to his third team and first since 2014.

In four starts since, though, he’s failed to finish inside the top 20.

There’s a chance Johnson will understand his passion and name him to this roster, but if this is a numbers game — and it is — he feels like one of those who'll be squeezed out in the end.

Russell Henley: +250

Should He Be a Captain’s Pick?

There’s some sentiment that Russell Henley would be a terrific course fit for Marco Simone, which certainly helps his cause. Even if he posts the low 72-hole gross score this week, though, it’s difficult to envision Henley leapfrogging so many others.

Will He Be a Captain’s Pick?

He won’t, but the fact that oddsmakers have listed him at a shorter price than Tony Finau and Lucas Glover suggest there’s at least an outside chance it could happen.

Tony Finau: +300

Should He Be a Captain’s Pick?

I’m gonna raise my hand here and be the first one to call out the double-standard before Twitter does it. Thomas missed the playoffs and yet, I still think he’s played well enough to be on this team, whereas Tony Finau is competing in this week’s Tour Championship and I think he hasn’t played well enough to be on this team.

I’ll completely own the incongruous nature of these conflicting opinions.

Since winning the Mexico Open in April, Finau has one finish better than 23rd in 10 starts. He would bring some serious offensive firepower to this competition, but he just hasn’t performed well enough.

Will He Be a Captain’s Pick?

If you attempted to predict the Ryder Cup team at the beginning of the year, Finau would’ve been a lock. Barring JT perhaps not making it, nobody’s exclusion should be more surprising, based on our initial perception.

Lucas Glover: +300

Should He Be a Captain’s Pick?

We should consider Glover a victim of circumstance. If this was 2016 or 2018, when the team flew directly from East Lake to the Ryder Cup, his “hot hand” would’ve been more appropriate.

With so much time in between the end of the season and this year’s event, though, it holds less value.

There are still things to like about Glover’s chances, though — from that recent form to experience to a lack of nerves.

Personally, I’ve been wondering which player would best pair with Brian Harman ever since he won The Open, and I think Glover could make the most sense. However, I’ll readily admit that might not be enough to get him to Rome.

Will He Be a Captain’s Pick?

I’ll say this much: he’s a lot higher on Johnson’s list than Henley or Finau at similar odds. It’s tough to back up the selection process for the sole reason of being able to take the most in-form players, then ignore the most in-form players.

If there’s another boost to these chances, it’s that the captain likely sees a lot of himself in Glover — a 40-something major champion who’s found something late in his career and could be rewarded for it.

Dustin Johnson: +700

Should He Be a Captain’s Pick?

Again, with fewer candidates, DJ would be firmly in the conversation, having posted a 5-0-0 record in the last Ryder Cup.

With only four chances to show his stuff against the PGA Tour’s best, though, he didn’t impress too much, as a T-10 at the U.S. Open was his only top-40 at a major.

He could certainly post a similar record this time around, but it’s difficult to bank on that considering his body of work this year.

Will He Be a Captain’s Pick?

There’s no doubt Johnson is reticent to dive into the LIV talent pool, which should make him thankful that so many PGA Tour players played well enough that he won’t have to look beyond Koepka.

Bryson DeChambeau: +1000

Should He Be a Captain’s Pick?

I can make the case that nobody is more intriguing in the four-balls format than Bryson, who might make nine eagles/birdies and have nine Xs on the card.

And you know who I’d pair him with? His old pal Brooks. Seriously.

Will He Be a Captain’s Pick?

No, but he at least made the captain take notice when he shot 58 to win a LIV title recently on a course that previously held an annual PGA Tour event.

Sahith Theegala: +1600

Should He Be a Captain’s Pick?

Absolutely … but not this year.

Will He Be a Captain’s Pick?

Give me half this number on Theegala making the 2025 team at Bethpage Black and I might take out a second mortgage.

Talor Gooch: +2000

Should He Be a Captain’s Pick?

You can make the case that any professional golfer who wins three times on any tour should be considered for the team.

You wouldn’t be right, but you can absolutely make this case.

Will He Be a Captain’s Pick?

I honestly wonder whether Johnson has even written down the name “Gooch” on a piece of paper over the past 12 months.

Patrick Reed: +2000

Should He Be a Captain’s Pick?

What is this, like 2016? Man, how quickly things can change. Once known as Captain America, he’s not even in the conversation just a few years later.

Will He Be a Captain’s Pick?

If I’m Reed, I hop on a private jet with Ian Poulter, do a ton of corporate appearances in Rome and just walk around Marco Simone all week hanging out and reminding people of how good I once was in this thing.

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