Paul Azinger says Brooks Koepka should relinquish his place on the United States Ryder Cup team if he does not want to play at Whistling Straits.

Four-time major winner Koepka raised eyebrows when stating in an interview with Golf Digest that he finds the prestigious event "a bit odd" and "hectic".

The former world number one revealed he finds playing in a team event difficult to adapt to, as he is unable to get into a usual routine that he would have during a major tournament.

Azinger, who captained the USA to victory over Europe in 2008, says Koepka ought to give someone else the chance to play in Wisconsin if he is not fully committed.

"I'm not sure he loves the Ryder Cup that much," Azinger said during a conference call for NBC Sports.

"If he doesn't love it, he should relinquish his spot and get people there who do love the Ryder Cup."

Azinger added of Koepka, who has been troubled by a wrist injury: "Not everybody embraces it.

"But if you don't love and you're not sold out, then I think Brooks - especially being hurt - should consider whether or not he really wants to be there."

Azinger continued: "Brooks is one of the most candid, most honest guys there is, and if he's blatantly honest with himself and doesn't want to be there, he should come out and say it."

The United States start their bid to regain the Ryder Cup a week on Friday.

Henrik Stenson has been named as Europe's fifth and final vice-captain for the Ryder Cup at Whistling Straits.

Padraig Harrington has turned to the vast experience of Swede Stenson to complete his backroom team for a showdown with the United States that starts in Wisconsin next Friday.

The 2016 Open champion has played in the prestigious biennial competition five times, lifting the famous trophy on three occasions.

Stenson, 45, has won 11 points from 19 Ryder Cup matches and came out on top in all three in the last edition at Le Golf National in 2018.

 

"It's a great honour to get the call and to be involved with Team Europe. I've been part of five Ryder Cup teams in the past and to be given the opportunity as a vice-captain to help Europe's quest to retain the Ryder Cup is exciting," said Stenson.

"Padraig called me on Monday morning and it was not a long conversation. I accepted straight away and I assured him that myself, along with the other vice-captains, are there to help and assist him and the team in any way we can.

"We have a very strong team. It's a mix of huge experience along with three guys who will take on their first Ryder Cup – and that's a great combination. We have strength in depth so I'm looking forward to getting out there and seeing the boys perform.

"It's no secret that winning on away soil is always a little bit harder, but the boys are ready for that challenge. It's all going to come down to how well we play during the week, but I have every faith in our team."

Robert Karlsson, Luke Donald, Martin Kaymer and Graeme McDowell are Harrington's other vice-captains.

Sergio Garcia enters his 10th Ryder Cup as the all-time leading scorer in the competition but he is thinking only of another team victory as he looks ahead to Whistling Straits.

Europe have won four of the last five and nine of the last 12 showdowns with the United States but Garcia is hungry for more at the delayed 2021 edition, to be held September 24-26.

He pointed out that the Americans still hold an overwhelming edge in the history of the biennial event, with 26 wins compared to only 14 for their opposition. 

"We still have some catching up to do, and that's a goal to try to tilt the balance to our favour when it comes in the global score of the Ryder Cup," Garcia told reporters after being selected for this year's team by captain Padraig Harrington. 

The USA's advantage stems mostly from the days when a player from Spain like Garcia would not have been eligible to contest the Cup. 

From its inception in 1927 through 1971, Great Britain provided the sole opposition. The next three Ryder Cups, from 1973-77, added players from Ireland as well. 

The Americans won 18 and lost three, with one tie, across that span before a full European team was first fielded in 1979. The USA won the first three after that format change but Europe are 11-5-1 since 1985. 

Garcia has been a huge part of that success since making his debut in 1999 as a 19-year-old.

At the last edition in Paris in 2018, Garcia raised his career point total to 25.5, passing Nick Faldo to become the highest-scoring player in history, but team success was – and remains – top of mind.

"Being the highest points-scorer in Ryder Cup history, that was never my goal," Garcia said. "It's something that I never thought about because I was always focused on winning the Ryder Cup as a team.

"So I never thought, oh, you know, even if we lose, if I win three or 3.5 points, I had a great Ryder Cup. No, that doesn't do it to me.

"I've always said it; I could win five matches. If we don't win the Ryder Cup, it's not a good Ryder Cup for me.

"I'm not one of those guys that would look at the individual stats over the team stats on that particular week.

"It's not the way my brain works and probably is one of the reasons why I've been fortunate to be a part of so many teams and do so well in it."

It also helps that Garcia cares so deeply about the competition and has always seemed to feed off the team dynamic and the unique atmosphere around any Ryder Cup gallery. 

He knows Europe will face the full wrath of the fans in Wisconsin, particularly with COVID-19 restrictions limiting travel from Europe. 

"Obviously when we're in the US, we are always out-numbered when it comes down to [crowds]. But this year is going to be even more," he said. "So the way you look at it, you can look at it two ways: You can feed off the energy that their crowd is going to have, and also you can feed off your good moments how they will get quiet and how you can quiet their crowds.

"I think that's going to be important and it's going to be important for everyone to know that when the course is quiet, this is a good thing for Europe."

Europe captain Padraig Harrington has selected Ian Poulter, Sergio Garcia and Shane Lowry as his wildcard picks for the Ryder Cup, but there is no place for Justin Rose on the 12-player roster.

Rose has competed in five of the last six editions of the biennial tournament, but he was overlooked by Harrington after a poor season on the PGA Tour that saw him fail to make the top 125 on the order of merit list.

Harrington opted for experienced names in Garcia and Poulter, while Lowry was given a reprieve of sorts after being knocked out of the automatic selection places when Bernd Wiesberger finished tied-20th at the BMW PGA Championship on Sunday.

Wiesberger, Poulter, Garcia and Lowry join Jon Rahm, Tyrrell Hatton, Paul Casey, Matt Fitzpatrick, Tommy Fleetwood, Rory McIlroy, Lee Westwood and Viktor Hovland, who all qualified through the rankings.

"I am absolutely thrilled with my team, with all of our picks we have the strongest 10, 11 and 12 we've ever had," Harrington said on Sunday.

Asked about the inclusion of Poulter, who is set to compete in his seventh Ryder Cup, Harrington said: "He is undefeated in singles. He lifts himself, he lifts his partners, he lifts the team.

"I'm getting a player who is in probably the best form of his life. He consistently motivates people around him. That's so important to the team. I know I have players who are good enough to deliver and Poulter is at the heart of our team."

Europe are looking to retain the trophy at Whistling Straits later this month following their 17.5-10.5 triumph over the United States in Paris three years ago.

USA finalised their squad on Wednesday, with captain Steve Stricker selecting Jordan Spieth and Xander Schauffele among his wildcard picks.

Schauffele was one of four rookies chosen by Stricker along with Daniel Berger, Harris English and Scottie Scheffler, with Tony Finau – part of the beaten side in 2018 – completing the captain's picks.

Collin Morikawa, Dustin Johnson, Bryson DeChambeau, Brooks Koepka, Justin Thomas and Patrick Cantlay had already locked in spots for the USA.

Bernd Wiesberger and Lee Westwood secured their places in Europe's Ryder Cup team as Billy Horschel prevailed on a dramatic final day of the BMW PGA Championship. 

Four automatic places were there for the taking at Wentworth. Tyrrell Hatton and Matt Fitzpatrick were already all but assured of their spots at Whistling Straits, with Wiesberger, Westwood, Shane Lowry and Justin Rose fighting to book their tickets. 

Lowry and Rose entered the final 18 holes with work to do and both ended up falling short. Rose's seven-under 65, which saw him finish three strokes behind Horschel on 16 under, was not enough to get him on either the European or World points lists. 

Irishman Lowry needed to finish in the top eight to qualify but endured a disappointing final day, a one-under 71 seeing him go 12 under for the tournament and leaving the 2019 Open champion down in tied 17th. 

Wiesberger carded a level-par 72 as he closed on 11 under, that score sufficient to dislodge Rory McIlroy from the European points list. 

Meanwhile, Westwood is set to equal Nick Faldo's record for Ryder Cup appearances by playing for Europe for the 11th time. 

Like McIlroy, Westwood qualifies via the World points list despite a five-over 77 that left him down in a four-way tie for 71st. 

At the sharp end of the leaderboard, it was Horschel who emerged from a tightly packed field thanks to his final-round 65. 

He was tied with Kiradech Aphibarnrat, Jamie Donaldson and Laurie Carter on 18 under, but a tremendous approach over the water at the last gave Horschel a simple putt for birdie. 

Carter was unable to replicate Horschel's feat, giving the American his second European Tour title of the year and his first triumph in a Rolex Series event. 

Francesco Laporta heads into the final round at the BMW PGA Championship with a one-shot advantage after a solid effort on Saturday.

The Italian may not have carded one of the day's most impressive scores, with three players managing to go round in 66, but his three-under 69 was enough to put him top after starting the day third.

Laporta carded an eagle on the five-par fourth as the world number 264 made the turn in 34, before producing a composed back nine to climb to the summit.

A couple of birdies and seven pars put him a shot ahead of Canter and helped capitalise on the struggles of overnight leader Kiradech Aphibarnrat.

His scores of 64 and 68 were followed up by an untidy 74 on Saturday, seeing the Thai drop to 10 under for the tournament, four adrift of Laporta.

The leader was understandably delighted with his day's work, though he accepts he may have to be better with the putter if he is to bring the trophy home.

"It was a great day for me, I hit the ball pretty solid. I missed some putts on last four holes, but I'm pretty happy with my game," he said. "The best thing I did today was to focus shot by shot.

"I just have to try do better tomorrow [with the putting]. I was feeling okay, not so under pressure, but tomorrow will be different."

Laurie Canter held a share of the lead with Laporta at the eighth after sinking a brilliant 20-foot putt for a birdie and then drew level again at the 12th, but ultimately ended the day a shot behind in second.

Four players are a further shot back and then another three head into the final day on 11 under for the tournament.

Two of them are Shane Lowry and Bernd Wiesberger – the latter just needs to finish in the top 50 to secure a spot in the Europe's Ryder Cup team, while the former is just behind Lee Westwood for the final automatic berth in Padraig Harrington's team.

Kiradech Aphibarnrat holds a one-shot lead over Laurie Canter after the second round of the European Tour's BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth.

Aphibarnrat shared the overnight lead with Christiaan Bezuidenhout, who went round in level par on Friday, but a four-under 68 moved him into top spot as the Thai sits on 12 under.

Canter, who has only seven European Tour top-10 finishes since 2010, was joint-fourth after Thursday's play but a second-round 66 placed him one stroke shy of Aphibarnrat.

Returning to the European Tour's flagship event for the first time since 2006, Adam Scott sits in third place after recovering from a double-bogey six on the third to reach 10 under.

Scott's playing partner Justin Rose, who knows victory at Wentworth will guarantee an outright spot in Padraig Harrington's Ryder Cup team, joined Jamie Donaldson and Billy Horschel in a share of fourth after carding 68, which put him on nine under overall.

Ryder Cup hopeful Shane Lowry finds himself embroiled in numerous qualification scenarios with Bernd Wiesberger, who closed on six under, and is now four shots back from the lead after producing a six-under 66.

The Irishman is part of a seven-man group in a tie for seventh and the 2019 Open Champion feels he is thriving under the pressure of securing a spot at Whistling Straits on September 24.

"Coming here with a little bit of pressure on me needing to perform and play well and I've done that the first two days," he said. "I'm pretty happy to be honest.

"Obviously I want to make the [Ryder Cup] team automatically. I think I've played some really good golf over the last few months to put my hat in for a pick on Sunday evening if I do need one.

"I'm here to win the golf tournament."

Kiradech Aphibarnrat and Christiaan Bezuidenhout finished eight-under par to share the first-round lead at the European Tour's BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth.

Aphibarnrat, whose last of four European Tour wins came in 2018, produced a magnificent back-nine run of seven birdies in eight holes to finish with a bogey-free 64.

Late starter Christiaan Bezuidenhout, who won two European Tour events in 2020, reached five-under through the front nine before closing with three consecutive birdies to claim joint-top spot.

Former world number one Adam Scott made his first appearance in the European Tour's flagship event since 2006 and sits one shot back in third, a bogey on the 16th his only blemish in an otherwise impressive seven-under 65.

Amid the backdrop of European Ryder Cup team selection, Justin Rose finished two shots behind playing partner Scott to occupy joint-fourth place, knowing victory at Wentworth will guarantee his place to face the United States on September 24.

But the 2016 Olympic champion, who is tied with Laurie Carter and Masahiro Kawamura, is enjoying the pressure and appreciates his Ryder Cup destiny is in his own hands.

"All eyes are on me now, which is great," Rose told Sky Sports. "That is a good start where I can focus on the positive scenario, which is me winning the tournament to get into the team by right.

"That [winning] is obviously Plan A, then Plan B is all of the other stuff.

"I didn't actually appreciate how many scenarios were still in play this week with so many players, so there's a lot to shake out obviously over the next few days."

European captain Padraig Harrington, who completed a level-par first round, will also make three wildcard picks for Whistling Straits, opening chances for the likes of Rose, Ian Poulter and Sergio Garcia.

Prior to Thursday, Shane Lowry occupied the ninth and final qualifying position for the European Ryder Cup team but the selections will be finalised after the conclusion at Wentworth.

The 2019 Open champion recorded a two-under 70, Austrian Bernd Wiesberger wrestling back four shots with a birdie-eagle finish for his 71 to maintain pressure for the final qualification spot.

Francesco Molinari is out of contention for the Ryder Cup after a poor run of form but record a three-under 69, while defending champion Tyrell Hatton struggled to two-over on day one.

Tiger Woods is progressing and optimistic he will "play golf again" following a serious car accident in February, according to Ryder Cup captain Steve Stricker.

Stricker announced his six picks for the United States team ahead of next month's Ryder Cup against Europe at Whistling Straights, though 15-time major champion Woods was a notable absentee on Wednesday.

Woods is recovering after suffering a comminuted open fracture in his right leg, which required emergency surgery, while also sustaining additional injuries to his foot and ankle as a result of the single-vehicle incident in California.

It remains to be seen when the 45-year-old will return to the course, but Stricker provided a positive update midweek.

"I've talked to Tiger a lot," American veteran Stricker told SiriusXM Radio.

"He's a part of this Ryder Cup family; he won't be able to be a captain's assistant this time around just because of his ongoing rehabilitation to try to get better and try to play golf again, and that is going well.

"He's progressing, he's doing well, things are moving in the right direction."

Stricker added: "He's very passionate about [the Ryder Cup]. He's a great guy to talk to. He's a great guy to lean on. We've had a number of talks.

"He continues to be a part of this, even though he won’t physically be here. He will be with us in spirit and help us if we need any help from afar."

United States captain Steve Stricker has selected Jordan Spieth and Xander Schauffele among his wildcard picks for the Ryder Cup, but there is no place for Patrick Reed on the 12-player roster.

Spieth will appear at the biennial competition for a fourth time in a row, while Schauffele is set to make his debut against Europe in next month's tournament at Whistling Straits after recently winning Olympic gold.

Schauffele was one of three rookies chosen by Stricker on Wednesday along with Daniel Berger, Harris English and Scottie Scheffler, with Tony Finau – part of the USA side that lost in Paris three years ago – completing the captain's picks.

Speaking at a news conference to announce his final selection, Stricker said: "All six of these guys have been playing some really good golf for a long period of time. 

"It's more about a body of work. They have all played great throughout this year and very well deserving of these picks."

The top-six qualifiers – Collin Morikawa, Dustin Johnson, Bryson DeChambeau, Brooks Koepka, Justin Thomas and Patrick Cantlay – had already locked in spots for the USA, who are seeking to regain the trophy after that 17.5-10.5 loss in 2018.

Reed is the most notable name overlooked by Stricker, the 31-year-old having featured in every American team since 2014. 

He made his return from a month-long absence at last week's Tour Championship after being hospitalised with pneumonia in both lungs.

Asked to explain his decision to overlook Reed, who top-scored for USA in their 2016 victory at Hazeltine, Stricker said: "That was a very, very difficult call. I lost sleep over that one. 

"He's a tremendous competitor, he brings a lot of match play golf and his record at the Ryder Cup is pretty darn good.

"I think it was the uncertainty of his health and the lack of play that led to our decision down the stretch."

Team Europe captain Padraig Harrington will announce his final three picks on Sunday.

Europe retained the Solheim Cup and secured just their second win in the United States on Monday, prevailing 15-13.

The visiting team held a 9-7 lead heading into the final day's action and protected that advantage to see out a stunning success.

Team Europe were comfortable in the end, although victory was sealed in rather untidy fashion in Ohio.

With the score at 14-11, Danielle Kang's poor putting left Emily Pedersen three up with three to play, guaranteed at least half a point, which would be enough for the win.

Matilda Castren had already ensured the holders would take the trophy home again, though, sinking the decisive putt to finish 1 up over Lizette Salas and clinch at least a draw.

Salas has twice finished second at majors this season, while Castren only made her LPGA Tour bow last year, yet it was the European star who held her nerve.

"It feels amazing. I can't believe I made that putt," Castren told Sky Sports. "It's such an amazing feeling and I'm so proud to be part of this team."

Suzann Pettersen had holed the winning putt two years earlier at Gleneagles, and she was a source of inspiration for Castren.

"We have Suzann's photo in the locker room, and there's a part of me that thought I wouldn't be able to do it," she said. "The pressure made me focus a bit more."

First-time Team USA captain Pat Hurst told NBC Sports: "It is what it is. We played hard and with heart. That's all we were asking for.

"Both sides are awesome players. The level of women's golf is unbelievable now, and it's just getting better."

Pedersen held on to beat Kang, while there were also European wins for Madelene Sagstrom, Leona Maguire and Celine Boutier. Maguire finished with a sensational 4.5 points as the only unbeaten player.

World number one Nelly Korda at least went down fighting, ending 1 up over Georgia Hall.

Patrick Cantlay said it is all about the challenge of battling golf's elite to win tournaments and not money after claiming the $15million FedEx Cup play-offs title with his dramatic Tour Championship success.

Cantlay earned a mammoth payday at East Lake, where the American outlasted world number one Jon Rahm by just one stroke at the PGA Tour's season-ending Tour Championship event on Sunday.

The 29-year-old Cantlay, who entered the season finale as the leader at 10 under per the new FedEx Cup format, carded a one-under-par 69 to hold off Rahm following his flawless final-round 68.

Cantlay, teeing off with a two-shot advantage, weathered his own nerves late on, birdieing two of his final three holes, having opened the door following a bogey on the 17th.

He had a one-stroke lead going to the par-five 18th hole and hit a clutch six-iron from 218 yards to within just 12 feet to secure a dramatic wire-to-wire victory and the biggest triumph of his career.

Cantlay became the first player with four or more victories in a PGA Tour season since Justin Thomas in 2016-17.

"As silly as it sounds, the money is not what's really important for me. The money is not what drives me to play this game," Cantlay told reporters.

"Winning golf tournaments, playing golf under pressure, and hitting quality golf shots under the gun, I mean, that's why I practice and that's why I practiced my whole life, and that's the best feeling in the world, is winning golf tournaments for me. So the money is just a consequence of that."

Cantlay added: "I think the guys that I play with; I think the guys on Tour know who I am and I think they know the kind of golf that I play.

"The respect that I get from those guys and being able to compete against those guys, that's why I do what I do, and so I'm not going to get too caught up in all the other stuff but I will tell you I'm very excited to have a lot of those guys on my side in the next couple weeks in the next event I play. I'm very much looking forward to The Ryder Cup."

After falling short, Rahm said: "I gave it my all. It wasn't enough. But it is what it is. I get to go home to my beautiful wife and family and rest up a little bit.

"The year is not over. We have a couple big events coming up and a couple big ones on the European Tour."

Patrick Cantlay claimed the $15million FedEx Cup play-offs after withstanding world number one Jon Rahm at the Tour Championship.

Cantlay earned a mammoth payday at East Lake, where the American outlasted Rahm by just one stroke at the PGA Tour's season-ending event on Sunday.

Last week, Cantlay defeated Bryson DeChambeau in a thrilling six-hole play-off to ensure he would start the Tour Championship as the leader at 10 under per the new FedEx Cup format.

Spanish star Rahm entered the event four strokes adrift but his flawless two-under-par 66 in the final round set up a nervy finish in Atlanta, Georgia.

However, Cantlay – who teed off with a two-shot advantage at the start of the final day – weathered his own nerves late on, birdieing two of his final three holes to hold off Rahm, having opened the door following a bogey on the 17th.


Cantlay had a one-stroke lead going to the par-five 18th hole and hit a clutch six-iron from 218 yards to within just 12 feet to secure a dramatic wire-to-wire victory and the biggest triumph of the 29-year-old's career.

He is now in contention for the PGA Tour Player of the Year award following his fourth victory of the season – no player has more trophies in 2020-21.

"It was tough, it definitely felt different than any other week. It was the longest lead I've ever held," Cantlay said afterwards.

"I tried to stay in the present day after day and I did an amazing job of that this week. I made a couple of mistakes I wouldn't normally make and was able to centre myself when I really needed to."

Kevin Na (67) finished third at 16 under as 2017 FedEx Cup champion Justin Thomas (70) ended the tournament a shot further back.

Xander Schauffele – tied for fifth alongside Viktor Hovland (70) – birdied five of his final six holes en route to a six-under-par 64 for his 20th consecutive round of even par or better at East Lake.

DeChambeau closed with a final-round 66 to earn sole possession of seventh place at 13 under, while defending Tour Championship and FedEx Cup winner Dustin Johnson was two strokes further back after a three-under-par 67.

Two-time champion Rory McIlroy (67) had to settle for a share of 14th spot – 14 strokes adrift of Cantlay.

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