Zach Johnson didn’t get into the weeds on the loophole that makes LIV Golf players eligible for the U.S. Ryder Cup team, but we did

AVONDALE, La. — During Zach Johnson’s pre-tournament press conference on Wednesday at the 2023 Zurich Classic of New Orleans, it was inevitable that the U.S. Ryder Cup captain would be asked about LIV Golf. Indeed, it was the very first question posed to him: Have any decisions been made in regard to whether or not you are open to picking LIV players for the Ryder Cup this year?

“No decisions have been made,” Johnson answered. “There’s still a lot of time left in that regard, and so many fluid factors.”

Six players automatically qualify for the U.S. team through a point system that would require LIV players to win at least one or more majors to be in the running. Johnson will have six picks to round out the rest of the team and noted that he would rely heavily on input from the six qualifiers.

“It’s their team,” he said. “So I don’t know who those six are going to be, obviously, but their ownership and their opinions will weigh heavily into what I, what we, decide to do.”

As of this week, the top six in the Ryder Cup point standings are:

Scottie Scheffler
Max Homa
Cameron Young
Jordan Spieth
Sam Burns
Patrick Cantlay

Effective on Aug. 20, 2023, following the second FedEx Cup playoff event, the top six eligible players on the points list will secure spots on the U.S. Team. But Johnson noted a wrinkle that could affect whether LIV players can be chosen for the team.

“Not to get overly in the weeds of all this, but in order to garner Ryder Cup points or be eligible for PGA of America Ryder Cup points and PGA Championship points, you have to be a member of PGA of America,” Johnson explained. “Those individuals that have left the PGA Tour to my knowledge, are still members of PGA of America. There’s a grace period involved there. I don’t know the specifics.”

Well, Golfweek decided to get into the weeds and asked the PGA of America for the specifics.

“PGA of America membership is a requirement to be eligible to participate on the U.S. Ryder Cup Team. Under the PGA of America membership rules there are classifications that currently allow LIV Tour members to retain their PGA of America membership status,” a PGA spokesperson said. “PGA Tour members are considered A3 classification. Because the LIV players paid their membership dues before June 30, 2022, they will retain their membership through the end of June 2023 and then through a grace period that runs through the end of June 2024. After that, under our current rules, they may apply for PGA’s Reserve Member classification. A3 members who resigned or are no longer PGA Tour Members (suspended) are still PGA of America members.”

Under this scenario, the grace period that Johnson referenced extends the membership for LIV players another year, which means they will remain eligible to earn points. The AP’s Doug Ferguson previously outlined why that will be a longshot, but it’s an interesting loophole that won’t be available to LIV players for the 2025 Ryder Cup at Bethpage Black.

The 2023 Ryder Cup will be held Sept. 29–Oct. 1 in Rome, Italy.

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