Lee Westwood pressures Justin Thomas to be selected for Team USA for the Ryder Cup

Only Phil Mickelson has played in more Ryder Cups than Lee Westwood, who played in the biennial competition for the 11th time at Whistling Straits in 2021.

Of those 11 appearances, Westwood has helped the European side win seven times, so the Englishman knows what it takes to succeed in the Ryder Cup.

But Westwood will not play in the 2023 Ryder Cup due to his affiliation with LIV Golf.

However, he took to Twitter Share his thoughts In selections made by US captain Zac Johnson, the US team has been rounded out.

“If @ZachJohnsonPGA had moved straight down the list he’d have a great team,” Westwood posted. “Obviously he has a plan in mind and has picked two goals out of 12 players. That’s the captain’s prerogative. However, there is added pressure when you choose and you don’t play well. #RyderCup”

Johnson selected Rickie Fowler and Justin Thomas — ranked 13th and 15th in the standings — to join this year’s Ryder Cup Team.

Thomas’ selection created some division among golf fans, as the two-time major champion had the worst season of his career. Thomas missed six cuts—three of which were in the major leagues—and failed to make the FedEx Cup playoffs.

Justin Thomas, Ryder Cup

Justin Thomas at the 2018 Ryder Cup
Photo by David Cannon/Getty Images

Many feel Thomas doesn’t deserve a spot. Hank Haney, Tiger Woods’ former coach, strongly echoed this sentiment.

However, Johnson chose Thomas because of his impressive Ryder Cup record and friendly demeanor. Thomas owns a 6-2-1 record in the Ryder Cup.

Meanwhile, Fowler had a fantastic season. He started the 2022–23 season at world No. 185 and is now at No. 25. He won the Rocket Mortgage Classic in July, posted seven more top-10 finishes, and is tied for fifth at the US Open.

He bounced back strong in 2023, and Johnson felt he had earned his spot.

Rickie Fowler, Ryder Cup

Rickie Fowler plays vault at the 2018 Ryder Cup.
Photo by Mike Erman/Getty Images

But Westwood doesn’t think so. The Englishman feels the USA captain should have moved on, choosing Cameron Young and Keegan Bradley over Fowler and Thomas.

Young has scored five top-ten finishes this season, two of them at the Masters and The Open Championship. The big hitter from Westchester, New York, ranks ninth in hits earned from the tee and third in driving distance on the PGA Tour.

Despite this, the 26-year-old struggled to find the lanes, finishing 119th in the Tour for driving accuracy. He also fumbled with the flat stick, ranking 145th in the round in hits earned: put. Finding fairways and good positioning is crucial to winning the Ryder Cup, especially on European soil.

As for Bradley, his exclusion from the team is heartbreaking. The 37-year-old had a fantastic season, winning the ZOZO and Travelers Championships. He also finished runner-up to Max Homma at the Farmers Insurance Open in January. But Johnson must have felt more confidence in Thomas, Fowler, and even Sam Burns than he did in the New England national.

Regardless, as Westwood hinted by using a bit of subterfuge, Thomas and Fowler will have some extra pressure on them throughout the competition. This is especially true for Thomas, who received a lot of slack in the lineup.

Jack Melko is a golf staff writer for SB Nation’s Play Through. You can follow him on Twitter @jack_milko For more golf coverage. Make sure to check @_PlayingThrough also.

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