I’m well aware that I have beaten this topic to death. I’ve bludgeoned it to the point that even PGA Tour pros are sick of me ranting about the Koepka Kalamity:

@NoLayingUp should Brooks have made the team? Yes. Are you being a huge nerd about this? Yes.

— Graham DeLaet (@GrahamDeLaet) September 9, 2015


This should have been a clear cut sign that I should tear down the FBI style corkboard I have going in my apartment trying to piece together and understand the conspiracy against Brooks Koepka, but that’s exactly what they want. I’m a Brooks Koepka truther to the very core, and I demand answers. This thing goes all the way to the top, and I’m in deep.


Backing up a bit, people have asked me where this obsession comes from. It’s a fair question. Friends and family members are concerned. I’m stopping random Dutch people in the street to explain it to them. The bottom line is that I’m a huge fan of Brooks Koepka’s game, and do not feel that he gets the proper respect he deserves from the TV networks, the media, the PGA Tour, and now, the United States Presidents Cup captain, Jay Haas.

The roots of this maltreatment can be traced back to the new qualifying system for the PGA Tour that requires players to spend a year on the Web.com Tour to obtain their PGA Tour card. In principle, this doesn’t sound like that bad of an idea. Make the young guys prove they can hang with the week in and week out grind of a national tour, learn how to compete, learn the ropes of being a professional, etc. For 99% of aspiring pro golfers, this system makes sense. The exception is that it completely alienates the most important and the most talented budding superstars who have no business spending a year of their life jetsetting to Boise Wichita, Bogota, etc., and should be given a better opportunity to play on the PGA Tour.

The most notable example of a player taking the Battlefield Breakthrough (trademark pending) approach to obtaining Tour membership is of course The Golden Child, Jordan Spieth. Non Tour members can use a maximum of eight sponsor’s exemptions to try to earn special temporary membership to the PGA Tour by obtaining as many FedExCup points as the 150th place finisher from the year before. Eight starts to get as many points as a guy that probably used 25 starts to get those points in the previous year. Not exactly fair, but again, only the cream of the crop are even considering this approach (or have the sponsors exemptions to even get the opportunity). So you need to actually get invited to tournaments, then ball out in the few chances you get. In, out, get, grab, bonk. This is not a new subject that we’re just bringing up now. We were on this as of last May, as even the sponsor’s exemptions are far from a guarantee:

Nothing against Ben Kohles, but we had beef with him getting a sponsor's invite over Brooks Koepka. Kohles shot 79 today. #FreeBrooks

— No Laying Up (@NoLayingUp) May 2, 2014

Once you earn enough points to obtain special temporary membership, you can accept an unlimited amount of sponsor’s exemptions. This was no problem for guys like Spieth and Koepka to earn, but it’s a big gamble. If you don’t play well enough, you just missed out on potentially eight Web.com starts that you could have used to earn your card that way. But guys like Koepka and Peter Uihlein have been giving Finchem’s system the middle finger, and electing to play full schedules on the European Tour rather than the Web, while flying back and forth across the pond when they’re able to get a sponsor’s exemption. Is this the system that Finchem envisioned? What is the argument for any system that encourages your best young talent to go play overseas instead of at home in the US? How is this good for American golf, or for the PGA Tour?

Qualifying System

This may seem like a completely irrelevant rant when it comes to the selection of the US Presidents Cup team, but bear with me. The qualifying system for the US team is at best, extremely flawed:

“The top 10 U.S. players who earn the most official FedExCup points, beginning with the 2013 BMW Championship through the 2015 Deutsche Bank Championship, with points earned in 2015 doubled.”

So not only does the new qualifying system encourage the superstars to take their talents to Europe, you can win every single event on that continent, and not obtain one single qualifying point for your play. There may very well be a good reason as to why this was overlooked, and it may be because the list of people that this effects is one name long: Brooks Koepka. Now let’s look at how the International Team is comprised:

“The top 10 international players (excluding those eligible for the European Ryder Cup team) from the Official World Golf Ranking as the conclusion of the 2015 Deutsche Bank Championship.”

This system factors in a player’s golf from all over the planet. This makes a little more sense, doesn’t it? Now, I understand the Presidents Cup is run by the PGA Tour, so it makes sense that they would use their funny money FedExCup points system to help promote their own product, but honestly, what is the point of using this as your qualifying system? It’s not like players are basing their schedules around what events are going to give them Presidents Cup points (thus would be encouraged to play more PGA Tour events). Why wouldn’t you want to build a team with the best American players by evaluating their results from all over the world? Especially because, you know, this is an international event. If the U.S. used the International system, let’s take a look at how the US team standings are as of October 5:

Isn’t there a huge outlier here? I realize that the cutoff for qualifying was after the Deutsche Bank Championship, but here we are, the week of the Presidents Cup, and the 12th ranked player in the entire world was deemed to not have done enough to qualify as one of the best 13 players to represent the USA in the Presidents Cup. Of the 24 players that will be playing this week, Brooks Koepka is ranked higher in the OWGR than 7 American players on the team, and 11 of the 12 International players.

Captain’s Picks

But fret not about the flawed system! There is a safety net for these players that fall through the unfair and unjust points scheme. Jay Haas gets two captain’s picks! He used those to choose his son, and a guy that has three top 10’s this year. But fear not! Jim Furyk is injured, so he gets one more chance to wrong this transgression! He of course used this opportunity to take the truck that he ran over Brooks Koepka with a few weeks ago, put it in reverse, and run him back over him to make sure he’s really dead. Haas selected J.B. Holmes.

Of course I bitched about this on twitter, and the responses I got as to this tweet were hysterical:

Just going to leave this here pic.twitter.com/FEeVJPxdb8

— No Laying Up (@NoLayingUp) October 2, 2015

“Not included in these stats is that Holmes was part of last winning Ryder Cup team. Brooks is great but JB experience is nice.”

As was discussed when Haas made the Phil pick, the experience quota for this team has been met. Chris Kirk is the only player on this team that has not been on a Presidents Cup or Ryder Cup team. Also, you know how J.B. Holmes made it on that ’08 Ryder Cup team? Yeah, he was a rookie, who was selected as a Captain’s Pick. Also, what the hell does experience even mean in this event? Do we forget that easily how much Walker, Spieth, and Reed balled out at the Ryder Cup last year?

“It’s for the best. Brooks might bomb one over the 38th parallel and spark the Second Korean War.”

OK, this one is fair.

On the surface, the JB pick over Koepka isn’t that outrageous (for now, I’m going to ignore the fact that J.B. has exactly zero top 10’s in majors in his career, and that BK has three of them within the last six majors). But the 12th ranked player in the world not being selected as one of the 13 best Americans absolutely is. For me, this isn’t about the Presidents Cup. I really, really, really don’t care about this event. That may sound ridiculous with how much energy I’ve wasted on the Koepka Kalamity, but I only care from the standpoint of Koepka’s development and recognition. To borrow a phrase from Geoff Shackleford, the PGA Tour continues to eat its young.

This is not an apples to apples comparison, but take a look back to 2013, when Fred Couples didn’t lay up, and took a chance on a 19 year old phenom. Now compare his 2013 season to Koepka’s 2015 season:

I knew Spieth's 2013 campaign was similar to Koepka's 2015, but this is insane: pic.twitter.com/jeFgzpf5lc

— No Laying Up (@NoLayingUp) September 9, 2015

Twitter commenters love to tell me “if he really deserved a spot, he would have qualified on points.” It’s not that hard to see the absolute flaws in this logic, as the system is kind of rigged against the young, up and coming player. The qualifying system encourages you to go abroad, then you get no qualifying points for your time abroad. In an ideal world, the leader of the United States team should recognize this, but I doubt it even cross Haas’ mind.

Koepka is going to be a Ryder Cupper for the considerable future, and while I know that Jay Haas and the PGA Tour have nothing to do with the Ryder Cup, the lack of vision for the potential future of American golf bothers me. We’re talking about a superstar talent being completely overlooked. Unsolicited, here’s what one of Koepka’s peers told me:

@NoLayingUp Quite possibly the most underrated player in the world.

— Blayne Barber™ (@BlayneBarberAU) October 4, 2015

This isn’t going to cost the U.S. the Presidents Cup. If you think that’s my point, then you’ve missed it. We are still going to annihilate the Internationals in what will largely be remembered more as a military demonstration on Kim Jong-un’s door step than it will be a friendly golf event.