The Round Table: should Brooks Koepka be on the U.S. Ryder Cup team?

Each week we ask our panel of writers, PGA members and golf industry experts to weigh in with their views on the hot topics of the day.

On Sunday at Oak Hill Country Club, Brooks Koepka returned to form and bested the world’s top golfers to take home the Wanamaker Trophy. It was his third PGA Championship victory and fifth major. What can you say about Koepka’s win and the inability of the chasers to catch him on Sunday?

Jim Deeks, Fairways Magazine (@jimdeeks): I’ve never been a fan of Brooks Koepka — a status that was only amplified after watching the Netflix documentary series, and the second episode which focused on Brooks and his wife (who defies description) — but I must give him credit for a very solid and steady performance at Oak Hill.  He didn’t flinch down the stretch, which is what winners generally have to do.  Achieving five major wins is putting him into All-Time Great territory.  A Masters or (British) Open would go a long way toward sealing that deal.  I just wish he’d develop a more pleasing, less-entitled personality.

Michael Schurman, Master Professional / Hall of Fame Member, PGA of Canada: Winning a major on a course as difficult as this takes as much fortitude as ability. Koepka looked invincible for the first few holes and then he looked like he hit a ‘wall’. Just at the moment when things could go either way, he steadied himself and got back on course. Only the very best champions can do this.

Peter Mumford, Fairways Magazine (@FairwaysMag): When it comes right down to it, Koepka is a pretty boring golfer – he just hits it long and straight, rarely gets in trouble and almost never needs a highlight reel type of recovery like Jordan Spieth or Rory McIlroy. Think Nick Faldo or Bernhard Langer’s consistency with more length. Oak Hill was perfect for Koepka. He could keep the ball in play better than anyone. And he’s an awesome putter. What he did at Augusta and Oak Hill is the gold standard, something few achieve, and most others strive for their entire career.

Some have argued that the set-up at Oak Hill was too tough and took all the excitement out of the Championship. Did the PGA of America get this one wrong?

Deeks: Not in my opinion, no.  I thought the golf course was the star of the show.  And I think it was a stern test, as all majors should be.  The horrible weather conditions on Saturday may well have made the rough unplayable (and I wondered why they didn’t postpone play during the downpours), but everyone was playing the same course, and they’re all pros, so hunker down and concentrate, boys.  Besides, there was enough excitement on Sunday, especially with the Michael Block sideshow.

Schurman: Not for me! I absolutely loved the setup! Remember that saying “Drive for show and putt for dough”? That is in a normal tour event. In the PGA, the saying became “Drive for dough and putt for more dough”. Finally, the best players had to consider many options before simply blasting a drive 350 yds. Oak Hill is a ‘real’ golf course.

Mumford: Oak Hill is certainly more penal than some and looked very much like an old U.S. Open set-up. But there were short holes, a drivable par-4 and enough creeks, deep bunkers and trees to spice things up. Even though TV viewership was low, real golf fans likely appreciated the way the course played. I know I did, and hope Oak Hill is on the agenda for another major soon.

With a win at the PGA Championship and a second at the Masters, Koepka is moving up the ranks in consideration for a spot on the American Ryder Cup team. Captain Zach Johnson refuses to provide a direct answer regarding whether he would even consider Koepka for the team or any other LIV golfers for that matter. What do you think? 

Deeks: As readers may know, I’m pretty much a hardliner on the whole LIV thing, and whether the defectors should be given any leeway or exemptions by the Tour.  It’s okay by me if they’re allowed to play in the majors, which aren’t run by the Tour, but I say “No, never” to being allowed in the Ryder Cup. They knew the consequences when they defected, let them live with them now.  I’m sorry they defected, but I can certainly watch and enjoy the Ryder Cup without the presence of Koepka, Poulter, DeChambeau, Johnson, or Burnt Cheeseburger.  Or Patrick Reed.

Schurman: Here we go again, placing the ridiculous political amphitheatre of professional golf on the shoulders of a bystander. Zack Johnson is being sucked down the rabbit hole of politics because of decisions he didn’t make. In the eyes of many, there is only one side to the LIV story, and they can believe whatever they wish but there are two sides to it. One is politically oriented and the other is competition. Until someone determines who can appropriately accept ‘evil’ money, how much they can accept and what they have to do for it, the political issue will remain with each individual person. However, if the issue is competition, the axe falls directly on Jay Monahan. He rushed into a ‘gun fight’ thinking he was Billy the Kid. He gave no thought to other golf associations, other tours and any person involved in golf or in any way to the future of the game. Single-handedly he raised the ire of every person who knew the PGA believed their monopolistic approach to management was a myth. I have written repeatedly for years the PGA is in trouble. They might weather the storm but the competition this time only offers one true strength: money! Wait until a competitor comes along with money and a better product. JM will quietly sneak out the backdoor and retire leaving his mess for others to clean up.

Mumford: By definition, the Ryder Cup is a bi-annual competition between the best from America and the best from Europe. Not the best from the PGA Tour and the best from the DP World Tour. Tours like to claim they produce the best and the current fight about world ranking points highlights the political silliness of it all. If they’re being honest, not many could argue that Koepka isn’t among the best American golfers in the world right now and easily deserves a spot on the American Ryder Cup team. Politics be damned!

The Round Table
The Round Table is a panel of golf writers, PGA members and industry experts.

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