We now know the 24 players who will participate in the 2023 Ryder Cup at Marco Simone from Friday, Sept. 29 through Sunday, Oct. 1.
There are certainly arguments to be made that a few players left to watch this on the couch should be making the trip to Italy, but it's hard to say any player selected is not deserving either.
With that being said, I will be ranking all 24 players at the Ryder Cup based on their current form, previous records in team events, course fit and anything else they might bring to the team room.
24. Robert MacIntyre
A lot of people may be excited for MacIntyre to be on this team, but over the last six months he is very clearly the worst player at the Ryder Cup in terms of strokes gained. Working in MacIntyre's favor is the fact that he won the 2022 Italian Open at Marco Simone and very nearly beat Rory McIlroy at the Scottish Open in July. It will be interesting to see who MacIntyre is paired up with, but the Scot plays with a lot of emotion and certainly will be a crowd favorite in Rome.
23. Nicolai Hojgaard
Hojgaard is an elite driver of the golf ball and gets on the European Ryder Cup team at just 22 years old. 2023 has brought more consistent results for the talented Dane, who has 10 top-15 finishes so far. Hojgaard has spent time on both the PGA and DP World Tours and had good results on both. He profiles for success on more American-style golf courses, so it will be interesting to see how he fairs at Marco Simone, especially given that he isn't a great putter.
22. Sepp Straka
It had been a pretty quiet season for Straka until he broke through at the John Deere Classic. He then added a T2 at the Open Championship and really started to make noise for the European Ryder Cup team. Straka had been known for inconsistent results over his career, but his big improvements in iron play have put him on more leaderboards of late. The Austrian struggles in the short-game department, so expect to see him more in four-ball, where he can be really aggressive.
21. Justin Thomas
The strokes gained numbers on the PGA Tour this season don't really match the results. He is coming off just his second top-5 of 2023 in Napa, but he now ranks 25th in SG: Total for the season. The putter has been the main issue, but the tee-to-green game is still pretty strong. Neither Thomas or partner Jordan Spieth are playing their best golf right now, but both have had so much success in team events together. We could look back at the end of the week and have Thomas way higher on this list as the emotional leader of this U.S. team.
20. Shane Lowry
Lowry was much the same story as Thomas in 2023. He notched only two top-10 finishes, missed the FedExCup Playoffs but was 28th in SG: Total. He was uncharacteristically poor with the putter this year but had one of the better ball-striking seasons of his career. Lowry's finishes were a lot more consistent this year that Thomas, and that's why he just gets the nod from me despite going only 1-2-0 in the Ryder Cup. A partner who is really good on the greens like Justin Rose or Matt Fitzpatrick makes a lot of sense for Lowry.
19. Sam Burns
Burns was thought to be a lock for this team after three wins last season, but he wound up right on the edge of a captain's pick after an inconsistent summer. Burns did win the WGC-Match Play in March in dominant fashion and also is the clear No. 1 choice of partner for his good friend Scottie Scheffler. Burns' iron play really fell off this year, but the putting is as good as it has ever been. That could mean a good combination with Scheffler in four-ball, who is the clear best ball striker in the world.
18. Justin Rose
Rose somewhat resurrected his career this year at age 43, ranking top-30 on the PGA Tour in SG: Approach, SG: Around-the-Green and SG: Putting. He picked up a victory early in the season at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am and has added nine top-25s since then. Rose missed cuts at the U.S. Open and Open Championship, but there's certainly enough there to warrant his selection to a sixth Ryder Cup, where he owns a very strong 13-8-2 record.
17. Ludvig Aberg
Aberg was the No. 1 ranked amateur before turning pro this summer. In 10 starts since doing so Aberg has made nine cuts and has notched seven top-25 finishes, including a win at the Omega European Masters. The Swede nearly went back-to-back, as he held a two-shot lead going into the final round of the BMW PGA Championship before fading to T10. Aberg is a dominant driver of the ball and should be a European Ryder Cup participant for years to come. There will be a lot of players on the team who want to play with Aberg.
16. Brooks Koepka
The lone LIV Golf player in the Ryder Cup, Koepka nearly made the U.S. Team on points despite playing in just four events that granted Ryder Cup points. He finished second at the Masters and then won his third PGA Championship in May. Koepka wasn't a factor at the U.S. Open or Open Championship, but all the American players like him and wanted him on the team. There is certainly a question of form, but Koepka has proven in the past that it doesn't matter with him if the event is big enough to really grab his interest. This will be his fourth Ryder Cup appearance and he owns a 6-5-1 record.
15. Jordan Spieth
Spieth had a very strong stretch of golf in the spring when he posted five top-6 finishes in seven stroke play events. The summer was largely disappointing, though, as Spieth missed four cuts and had just two top-20 results, a T5 at the Memorial and T6 in Memphis. Now 30 years old and at his fifth Ryder Cup already, Spieth will look for a repeat of the President's Cup last fall when he went 5-0-0. The short game always keeps him alive in match play and the U.S. will need some points from the duo of Spieth and Thomas to break the drought on European soil.
14. Matt Fitzpatrick
The 0-5-0 record in his two Ryder Cup appearances is certainly a concern, but this will be his first one on European soil, where his game will be better suited. Fitzpatrick won the RBC Heritage in a playoff over Spieth earlier this season and comes into the Ryder Cup in good form, having went T2-T9-T3-T18 over his last four starts. The approach play is a bit of a concern, but Fitzpatrick has added a lot of distance and remains strong on and around the greens.
13. Brian Harman
I don't think many expected Harman to qualify for the U.S. team on points at the start of the year. He just went on a torrid stretch this summer that included five top-12s in a six-event stretch, highlighted of course by his dominant showing at the Open Championship at Royal Liverpool. Harman has the bulldog mentality that should really work in his favor in match play, especially given how good of a putter he is. The ball striking can get off a times, but he also led the PGA Tour in scrambling and should shine in foursomes.
12. Wyndham Clark
Clark has the power and putting prowess to be a really good player on the PGA Tour for years to come. He didn't put it all together until this year, when his approach play and short game saw major jumps, and as a result he won a designated event in Charlotte and then the U.S. Open the next month. He struggled a bit since that U.S. Open victory, but he ended the season with a third-place finish at East Lake. Clark should be a really good player in four-ball that I could see pairing up well with anyone.
11. Rickie Fowler
Fowler looked like the golfer who was a top-10 player in the world for a solid chunk of years before he went into a slump. This season he was one of the most consistent players on the PGA Tour, going 23-for-25 with a whopping 18 top-25 finishes, including a playoff victory at the Rocket Mortgage Classic. The iron play has been spectacular and the putter is back to being a weapon. Fowler will be playing in his fifth Ryder Cup but has just a 3-7-5 record. Koepka makes a lot of sense as a partner for Fowler in either four-ball or foursomes.
10. Tyrrell Hatton
The only knock you could have against Hatton is that he hasn't won since early 2021 in Abu Dhabi, but he put himself in good positions a lot of times in 2023. Hatton has logged 10 top-10 finishes in 2023 to this point, including a runner-up at the BMW PGA Championship. The Englishman is a player with no weaknesses and can absolutely fill it up on the greens. He has a 2-4-1 record in two previous Ryder Cups and a partnership with Jon Rahm would be fun to watch given the intensity both players have for this game.
9. Collin Morikawa
It's hard to believe that Morikawa has not won since the 2021 Open Championship. He certainly had his chances this year, most notably holding a six-shot lead on the back nine at Kapalua and a playoff loss at the Rocket Mortgage Classic. Morikawa is still a lethal iron player, ranking second in SG: Approach and third in GIR percentage. His precision driving will also be rewarded on a European setup. We know the putting issues still exist, but the bigger question will be, who do you pair Morikawa with after he was so strong with Dustin Johnson at Whistling Straits?
8. Max Homa
Homa would be a player that makes sense to pair with his fellow Cal Golden Bear, Morikawa. Homa started last season strong with wins in Napa and La Jolla, then nearly picked up another win at Riviera. There were some inconsistencies in the middle of the year, but he closed with top-12 finishes in his last six events. Homa is an elite wedge player and putter and is also a better driver than people give him credit for. The six-time PGA Tour winner went 4-0-0 at the Presidents Cup last year and will be a very important player for the U.S. team in Rome.
7. Tommy Fleetwood
Fleetwood has been a borderline top-5 player in the world over the last few months despite not winning. Over his last 13 starts he owns seven top-6 finishes and 11 top-25s. His strokes gained model looks like a perfect pentagon to emphasize how complete of a player he is, but in particular the short game and putting have been outstanding. We remember his run with Francesco Molinari at the 2018 Ryder Cup, in which they went undefeated in all four team sessions. Fleetwood struggled at Whistling Straits, but Marco Simone will be much better suited to his game.
6. Patrick Cantlay
It was a really good season for Cantlay, just not a great one because he didn't win. The 31-year-old went 19-for-21 with 18 top-30 finishes and eight top-5s. We know Cantlay and Xander Schauffele will form one of the strongest duos at the Ryder Cup this year. They went a combined 6-1-1 over the last two team competitions. Cantlay led the PGA Tour last season in total driving and birdie average and has been amongst the top five players at the Ryder Cup in true strokes gained over the last three, six, 12 and 24 months.
5. Jon Rahm
If we did these rankings in the spring Rahm would have No. 1 and it wouldn't have been close. The Spaniard racked up wins at the Tournament of Champions, American Express, Genesis Invitational, and The Masters. Rahm also logged runner-up finishes in Mexico and at the Open, but he hasn't really looked like the same player over the last few months. In fact Rahm is actually the 12th best player by true strokes gained over the last three months. We know the pedigree, however, and Rahm's play will surely have a big factor on the outcome. Rahm and Sergio Garcia were really the only two bright spots at Whistling Straits, going 3-0-0 together.
4. Xander Schauffele
Schauffele is Mr. Consistency. He made the cut in all 22 of his starts last season and had just four finishes outside the top 25. Unfortunately a win was not in the cards, but he did about everything he could do to push Viktor Hovland at the TOUR Championship last month. Schauffele ranked third in SG: Approach and fourth in SG: Putting last season. He and Cantlay are arguably the two most complete players in the game and will surely be out for each of the four team sessions together.
3. Scottie Scheffler
Scheffler put together one of the greatest ball-striking seasons in the history of the sport, but it only amounted to two early-season wins. He had the highly-discussed 18-event top-12 streak, but you could sense a growing sense of frustration because of the lack of success with the putter that cost him wins in some really big events. The start of Scheffler's run to world No. 1 really began a the 2021 Ryder Cup when he got a captain's pick and went 2-0-1. He will be eager to turn things around after going 0-3-1 in the Presidents Cup last year.
2. Viktor Hovland
We've seen golfers catch fire in the FedExCup Playoffs before, and this year it was Hovland. It started on Sunday at the BMW Championship, where he was knocking down flagsticks en route to a 61 and a win, and then he ran away from the field at the TOUR Championship at 27-under-par. Hovland is still the elite ball striker we have always known him to be, but he turned his short-game weaknesses around -- and then some. It doesn't seem like it will be long until he reaches No. 1.
1. Rory McIlroy
We talked about Scheffler's long streak of high finishes earlier in the season, but McIlroy has just one finish outside the top 10 in his last 12 starts, and that was a T16 at the Irish Open. Similar to Scheffler, McIlroy only has one win in that stretch, which was at the Scottish Open. He leads all Ryder Cup players in true strokes gained over the last three months and will be as motivated as ever to put in a strong showing following his 1-3-0 record at Whistling Straits.
The story for the last couple Ryder Cup's has been whether or not Europe can match the depth of the Americans. 1 through 6 the Europeans have been just as good, and this year arguably better than the Americans. The real question will come whether 7 through 12 is able to maintain with some talented American players on the bottom of the roster. If Thomas, Burns and Koepka are the American's worst players, can MacIntyre, Hojgaard and Straka hold up and get the Europeans some points?
That lack of depth has put a lot of pressure in the past on the top European players and I think McIlroy, Hovland and Rahm will need to be pretty lights out to win this Ryder Cup. The average OWGR of the American team is 12.8, while the average OWGR of the European team is 29.2. However, this event is not won on paper otherwise the U.S. would have won more than just three of the last ten Ryder Cups. The Americans have also not won on European soil since 1993 at The Belfry.
The host team always gets final say on how to setup the course for the Ryder Cup and it was dramatic in 2018 at Le Golf National. The Europeans made the fairways extremely narrow and penal rough to try and take away the power advantage of the Americans. Marco Simone won't be to that level, but it certainly has the rough and fairway bunkers to punish offline drives. You have to think that the Americans learned their lesson from 2018 and will attack this course differently. They are overall the better team on approach and around-the-greens, but Europe likely holds the edge with the putter, which has been the deciding factor more often than not in this event.