Ex-Ryder Cup captain Paul Azinger calls on Brooks Koepka to give up his spot on the US team

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 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

Former US Ryder Cup captain Paul Azinger has told Brooks Koepka to give up his spot on the team if he isn’t in thrall to the tournament.

Koepka questioned his love for the traditionally biennial event – delayed a year because of Covid – earlier this week saying he struggled with both the demands and the emotion.

But reacting to his comments, Azinger, who captained the American team in 2008, said: “I’m not sure Brooks loves the Ryder Cup that much and, if he doesn’t love it, he should relinquish his spot and get people there who do love the Ryder Cup.

“Not everyone embraces it but, if you aren’t sold on it, I think Brooks should consider whether he really wants to be there.”

Koepka, a four-time Major winner who scored three points from a possible four on his Ryder Cup debut in Paris in 2018, had described the Ryder Cup as “a bit odd” and that it was “just maybe not in my DNA – the team sports thing”.

He told Golf Digest: “You go from an individual sport all the time to a team sport one week a year. It’s so far from my normal routine. It’s hard to even go to the gym.

“It’s more demanding than I’m used to and there’s a lot of emotion there so, by Sunday, you’re just dead.”

Azinger also warned that the apparent dislike between two leading figures in the American team could yet have a negative impact on the hosts at Whistling Straits when the event gets under way.

He added: “When you add the Bryson dynamic, that would make the decision easier for [Koepka]. Brooks is one of the most honest, candid guys and, if he is blatantly honest with himself and if he doesn’t want to be there, he should come out and say it.”

The European team, captained by Padraig Harrington, is bidding to become the first visiting team to win on American soil since the Miracle in Medinah back in 2012.

The event gets under way next Friday with the 12-man American team the overwhelming favourites for victory.

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