Inland Valley Daily Bulletin

Dustin Johnson: LIV Golf defection cost me Ryder Cup


From news service reports

Dustin Johnson said he would have been selected to this year’s United States Ryder Cup team had he not defected to LIV Golf.

Johnson, a two-time major champion, instead finds himself a spectator despite being a part of five previous American teams. The Ryder Cup will be contested at Marco Simone Golf & Country Club near Rome, starting Sept. 29.

“I would love to be a part of the team,” Johnson told The Palm Beach Post. “But to be honest, I haven’t really played that well this year. But have I played well enough to be on the team? Yeah. I didn’t have the best year. Was it good enough to make the team? I think so.

“If I would have been playing on (the PGA Tour), yeah, I would have made the team. Do I think I can help the U.S. team? Absolutely.”

Johnson, who joined the Saudifunde­d LIV Golf circuit in June 2022, was not selected by U.S. captain Zach Johnson despite recording five top-10 finishes this season.

Johnson, 39, didn’t fare well in the majors, however, with his T10 finish at the U.S. Open being the best of the lot. He tied for 48th at the Masters, tied for 55th at the PGA Championsh­ip and missed the cut at The Open Championsh­ip.

“If I would have played a little better at the majors, I think I definitely would have had a really good chance to be on the team,” Johnson said. “But just struggled a little bit in the majors this year, which happens.”

Brooks Koepka, the reigning PGA Championsh­ip winner, is the only LIV golfer on the 12-man American roster. The five-time major winner was one of Zach Johnson’s six captain’s picks announced last month.

Dustin Johnson called Zach Johnson a “good friend of mine” and said the two spoke about the Ryder Cup at this year’s majors.

“I told him I’d love to be on the team,” Dustin Johnson said. “But like I said, I didn’t play quite well enough, especially not being on the tour, I needed to really play well.”

Johnson helped lead the U.S. to a victory over the Europeans in the 2021 Ryder Cup and also was a member of American teams in 2010, 2012, 2016 and 2018.

■ Justin Thomas scuffled through an uneven afternoon with a 3-under 69 in his return to the PGA Tour following a lengthy layoff, leaving him six shots off the lead in the first round of the Fortinet Championsh­ip in Napa.

Thomas, the former No. 1 player in the world who was a captain’s pick for the Ryder Cup, had hoped to clean up his game in a final tune-up, but wasn’t nearly as sharp at Silverado Resort as he hoped.

Playing for the first time since finishing 12th at the Wyndham Championsh­ip in Greensboro, N.C., on Aug. 6, Thomas made four birdies and worked around a bogey on the par-4 ninth. He was tied for 20th, chasing Lucas Herbert, the leader after a 6-under 63.

“Sometimes after some time off it’s hard for me to get back into it but I didn’t feel very competitiv­ely rusty,” said Thomas, who hit three of 14 fairways. “I was very engaged and focused on what I was doing. I just wasn’t exactly doing it how I wanted to.

“I was managing my game. It’s exactly what I did at the Wyndham. Today wasn’t a day with how I hit it I was going to shoot 6- or 7-under. Three under with how I feel I hit it was a great thing.”

Herbert, who took a seven-week break from playing, came back looking much stronger and crisper than Thomas. Herbert had 10 birdies — seven over his final nine holes — to overcome an early bogey.

S.H. Kim was second at 65, He holed out for eagle from 106 yards on the par-4 14th.

■ Europe’s 12 Ryder Cup players delivered a mixed bag of scores in the first round of the BMW PGA Championsh­ip. None of them were better than Marcus Helligkild­e.

The No. 232-ranked Dane made seven birdies in a nine-hole stretch then closed with three in a row to shoot an 8-under 64 and take a two-stroke lead at the European tour’s flagship event at Wentworth in Virginia Water, England.

Of the Europeans heading to Rome for the Ryder Cup in two weeks, Matt Fitzpatric­k (66), Ludvig Åberg (68) and Tyrrell Hatton (68) posted the best rounds.

Nicolai Hojgaard, who earned the final pick of captain Luke Donald ahead of Adrian Meronk, was at the other end of the scale in shooting 76.

Then there were Europe’s two big guns, No. 2-ranked Rory Mcilroy and No. 3-ranked Jon Rahm, who labored their way around the West Course and shot 72 and 71, respective­ly, on a glorious day at the European tour’s headquarte­rs.

U.S. falls to Netherland­s in Davis Cup group stage

Frances Tiafoe was beaten for the second straight time and the United States lost to the Netherland­s in the group stage of the Davis Cup Finals in Split, Croatia.

Tallon Griekspoor defeated Tiafoe 6-3, 6-7 (7), 7-6 (3) to secure the Netherland­s the victory in Group D. Botic Van de Zandschulp had beaten Tommy Paul 7-6 (2), 6-2 in the opening singles match. Tiafoe had lost to Croatian Borna Gojo on Wednesday in a tie the Americans won 2-1.

The Netherland­s had opened with a win against Finland.

Defending champion Canada defeated Sweden to take the lead in Group A.

Salt Lake City endorsed for future Games by USOPC

The U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee officially endorsed Salt Lake City as the American bid city for an upcoming Winter Olympics, with the committee’s chairman saying that while the U.S. bid remains flexible, it would prefer hosting in 2034 over 2030.

The move to put Salt Lake City up as a candidate for “targeted dialogue” with the Internatio­nal Olympic Committee about an upcoming Winter Games was expected, but still marked a major milestone for the bid, said the city’s bid-committee president, Fraser Bullock.

Bid organizers have touted Salt Lake City, which hosted the Winter Games in 2002, as the most ready and most flexible candidate to host in either 2030 or 2034. The 2030 bid process has been muddled, with Canada and Japan pulling out of the running, but Sweden, Switzerlan­d and France all more recently discussing a possible bid with the IOC.

The 2034 Games would be less of a logistical and business challenge for both Salt Lake City and the USOPC, since 2030 would come only two years after Los Angeles hosts the Summer Games.

Red Bull driver Perez gets apology from boss Marko

Sergio Pérez said he received a personal apology from Red Bull boss Helmut Marko over comments Marko made suggesting his heritage was to blame for inconsiste­nt results on the track.

In comments last week on Servustv, an Austrian broadcaste­r that is part of the Red Bull group, Marko described Pérez as “South American” and indicated that could explain a lack of focus or inconsiste­ncy. Pérez is from Mexico, which is in North America.

Marko issued a public apology

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