You reap what you sow. And Dustin Johnson has no one to blame but himself for not making the United States Ryder Cup team. Once he sold out to Saudi-backed LIV Golf last year for a reported $125 million, his margin for error to make golf’s premier team event became razor-thin. And it shouldn’t be a shock to Johnson that based on his performances at major tournaments over the last year he wasn’t chosen. Finishing in a tie for 48th at the Masters, tied for 55th at the PGA Championship, and missing the cut at the British Open doesn’t scream representing the United States at all. And those three performances negate a tie for 10th at this year’s U.S. Open.
Johnson has played well in LIV-branded competition, completing 10 top-5 finishes in 11 events. With how upstart the LIV is, even with a merger with the PGA Tour still hiding in plain sight, it’s how you perform with the lights on brightest that determined Johnson’s Ryder Cup fate. Only one LIV golfer is on the U.S. team — Brooks Koepka, who narrowly missed being automatically selected to the team based on his world ranking. Then came U.S. captain Zach Johnson’s half-dozen picks. DJ has no relation to Zach, but the duo allegedly spoke this year at major events, with the unselected Johnson telling the American captain his desire to play for the team. It didn’t come to fruition.
“I would love to be a part of the team,” Johnson told the Palm Beach Post. “But to be honest, I haven’t really played that well, this year. But have I played well enough to be on the team? Yeah. I didn’t have the best year. Was it good enough to make the team? I think so. If I would have been playing on (the PGA Tour), yeah, I would have made the team.”
That previous quote comes off as contradictory. You played well enough to be in a selective group even though you know you didn’t do your best this year? Alright, DJ. There are only 12 spots for Americans in the biennial tournament. Staying on the bubble at best is not the way to make sure you represent your country. Take a lesson from your fellow Saudi backer. Koepka left no doubt as to why he needed to be at the Ryder Cup, defection or not. Zach Johnson said as much when explaining his selections, noting Koepka truly seized the opportunity to play for the Americans in Italy later this month.
Golf is a business more so than ever now of truly focusing on what you have done lately. With the PGA no longer the unquestioned king of the sport because of the blood money being thrown around by royalty in the Middle East, performing at your best when everyone is on the same greens and fairways is the most important thing. Not your history. In that case, Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson are shoe-ins for every American team as long as they can walk. DJ did become the first American to finish a Ryder Cup with a 5-0 individual record in over four decades in 2021, and he’s been part of five Ryder Cups. That holds little credence to be chosen this year. DJ had a great run for the U.S. and if the goal is for the Americans to dominate Team Europe, like it did two years ago, he needed to stay home.