Azinger questions Koepka's Ryder Cup commitment

Los Angeles (AFP) –


Former US Ryder Cup captain Paul Azinger suggested US star Brooks Koepka should give up his spot in the American team if he doesn't "love" the match play competition against Europe.

With the United States due to take on the Europeans at Whistling Straits next week in the biennial match play showdown -- delayed a year by Covid-19 -- Koepka raised eyebrows with comments in a Golf Digest interview in which he indicated the team format might not be for him.

"It's a bit odd, if I'm honest," Koepka told the magazine of Ryder Cup week. "I don't want to say it's a bad week. We're just so individualized, and everybody has their routine and a different way of doing things, and now, it's like, OK, we have to have a meeting at this time or go do this or go do that.

"There are times where I'm like, I won my match. I did my job. What do you want from me?

"I know how to take responsibility for the shots I hit every week. Now, somebody else hit a bad shot and left me in a bad spot, and I know this hole is a loss. That's new, and you have to change the way you think about things."

While many Ryder Cup players are enthusiastic about the chance to play as a team for a change, Koepka seemed to bemoan the fact that the structure is "so far from my normal routine."

Azinger had no time for that attitude, when he spoke to reporters on an NBC Sports/Golf Channel conference call.

"Brooks, when I just read that article, I'm not sure he loves the Ryder Cup that much," Azinger said. "If he doesn't love it, he should relinquish his spot and get people there who do love the Ryder Cup."

Four-time major winner Koepka had vowed earlier this month that he'd be ready for the Ryder Cup even as he pulled out of the US PGA Tour Championship after hurting his left wrist hitting out of the rough.

But Azinger, who captained the United States to Ryder Cup victory in 2008 at Valhalla in Kentucky, said he might not be the best choice for the US team.

"Not everybody embraces it, but if you don't love it and you're not sold out, then I think Brooks should – especially being hurt, should consider whether or not he really wants to be there," Azinger said.