23 September 2023
Making the trip over the pond for this year’s Ryder Cup, Team USA will be looking for an elusive away win, something they have not achieved since 1993! Seven of the 12 players who participated in the dominant home win at Whistling Straits feature in Zach Johnson’s team and we will take a closer look at three players in particular – Justin Thomas, Jordan Spieth, and Max Homa.
One of the most highly debated players at the Ryder Cup this year alongside Ludvig Aberg, although for different reasons. Thomas is a Captain’s pick that divided opinion with many believing his recent form should not merit a pick.
However, his record at the Ryder Cup and matchplay prowess earned the confidence of his Captain with Jonhson saying
‘he was born for this and you just don’t leave JT at home’
Those of us that have played in match play format appreciate the importance of a hot putter and Thomas has the best year to date one-putt streak of 17 holes for the season – a remarkable stat. However, his strokes gained for putting would suggest his putter is very much cold at the moment, ranked 144th on Tour.
Justin’s game on the whole is still above average for strokes gained total where he ranks 40th on Tour although it seems like JT needs to iron out some issues in his swing. His driving accuracy, GIR%, and proximity to the hole are all well below Tour average, ranking 138th, 129th, and 138th at this point in time.
Thomas has been putting in the work in the build up to the Ryder Cup and will no doubt be ready to compete at Marco Simone later this month.
Jordan Spieth at the age of 30 is a veteran in the Team USA side and will be looking to maintain his impressive form with doubles partner Justin Thomas who went undefeated in 2018. At Whistling Straits the pair lost one match and won another making their record 4-0-1 – impressive given the opposition!
Avid PGA Tour spectators will not be surprised to hear that Spieth ranks inside the Top 10 on Tour for scrambling from 20-30 yards and 32nd for overall scrambling. Often it seems like there is no shot and yet Jordan seems to pull off something miraculous leaving everyone stunned, like this shot at Whistling Straits.
Historically, Spieth has been known for his putting, at times seeming like he couldn’t miss with it in his hand and it comes as no surprise that he ranks highly in approach putt performance, 2nd currently.
What does this mean? Spieth’s first putt is consistently finishing 2’0” from the hole leaving him tap-ins more often than not. His strokes gained for putting are not as electric as previous seasons, currently ranked 80th, but we can see that he is putting well but not holing as many putts.
With 13 PGA Tour wins, three of which being Majors, Spieth is well versed in what it takes to win at the highest level and with JT by his side, it could be the difference for the pair.
The California Kid, Max Homa, doesn’t seem like a rookie as such with six PGA Tour wins however this is the first time he has had the call up to the Ryder Cup. Having played in similar events including the Walker Cup and Presidents Cup previously, the format is not foreign to Max but the Ryder Cup is and so is playing a team event on foreign soil.
Homa has a swing that many on Tour admire and the World number seven has found his groove of late with four of his six wins coming in the last two seasons. Ranked 9th in strokes gained total, Max’s game is solid and a lot of this can be attributed to his putter.
His putting average places him third on tour and from a strokes gained perspective he ranks 7th on Tour, gaining 0.621 strokes on the field with putter in hand. As previously mentioned, putting is crucial for matchplay events and if Homa heats up on the greens, it could be a problem for Team Europe.
A slightly different statistic from what we normally look at but equally interesting, Homa ranks 11th in scrambling and first in bounce backs.
Why have we mentioned these? Well, in matches being able to make a par for a half from unlikely positions is massive for momentum and can feel like a win. Similarly, being able to bounce back from a lost hole is important and so being number one on Tour suggests Max doesn’t let a bad hole derail his game.
With his personality and ability, anyone paired with Homa will likely be delighted with their partner and as far as rookies go, Homa will likely have an impressive debut at Marco Simone.
Do you think Zach Johnson made the right call with JT and his picks?
There is only one way to find out! The countdown has already begun, as we look forward to this year’s Ryder Cup at Rome.
Want insight like this into your game?
Shot Scope performance tracking products give golfers Tour level insight to their game with no subscription fees or hidden costs.
Level up your game with Shot Scope.
Some more Ones to Watch
Brian Harman – Overall Record – Rookie
Scottie Scheffler – Overall Record – 2-0-1
Rickie Fowler – Overall Record – 3-7-5
Did you know that 84% of missed putts over five feet finish short? Or, that your typical drive is nearly 30 yards shorter than your Sunday best drive? These are just two intriguing statistics thrown up by Shot Scope’s performance tracking data platform. Download our free guides for golfers now!FREE e-books to lower your score