Brooks Koepka withdraws from Presidents Cup; Rickie Fowler in

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Brooks Koepka withdraws from Presidents Cup; Rickie Fowler in

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Brooks Koepka withdraws from Presidents Cup; Rickie Fowler in

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Brooks Koepka is out of the Presidents Cup; Rickie Fowler is in.

Koepka, ranked No. 1 in the world, announced on Wednesday that he has been forced to withdraw from the 2019 competition due to a knee injury. U.S. Team Playing Captain Tiger Woods used the additional selection afforded to him by Koepka’s withdrawal to select Fowler.

“I notified Captain Tiger Woods that despite constant medical care and rehab, I am not able to play golf at this time. I consider it to be a high honor to be part of the 2019 team and I regret not being able to compete,” Koepka said in a statement. “Since my injury in Korea, I have been in constant contact with Tiger and assured him that I was making every effort to be 100 percent in time for the Presidents Cup in Australia. However, I need more time to heal.”

Tiger Woods and Rickie Fowler on the 12th tee during the second round of The 2018 Players Championship at TPC Sawgrass. Photo: John David Mercer/USA TODAY Sports

Koepka qualified as the No. 1-ranked player for the U.S. Presidents Cup Team in the points standing. December’s event would have been Koepka’s second Presidents Cup appearance after making his debut in 2017 and compiling a 2-2-0 record.

“Brooks and I talked, and he’s disappointed that he won’t be able to compete,” Woods said. “I told him to get well soon, and that we’re sorry he won’t be with us in Australia. He would clearly be an asset both on the course and in the team room.”

“Anytime you lose the No. 1 player in the world, that’s a huge loss,” said Charles Howell III, the defending champion at this week’s RSM Classic. “And Brooks, like his mentality, the way he is, I mean, he seems made for match play, so I do think it’s a big loss.  But you’re replacing him with Rickie Fowler, who’s obviously a phenomenal player.”

Fowler will now play for the third time on the U.S. Team following a strong showing in 2017 at Liberty National where he was undefeated with a 3-0-1 record. Fowler, who was 11th in the Presidents Cup points standings, hasn’t played since finishing T-19 at the Tour Championship in late August. He was expected to play at the Mayakoba Golf Classic last week, but withdrew due to an intestinal bacterial infection.

Former two-time U.S. Ryder Cup captain Davis Love III supported the selection of Fowler. He thought back to 2010, when Fowler was a rookie under consideration for Captain Corey Pavin’s final pick.

“When I called Bob Tway, he pointedly said, ‘He should be your first pick,’ and Rickie proved that over in Wales. He played like a veteran,” Love said. “Rickie loves the stage. A lot like a Phil Mickelson or now hanging around Kevin Kisner, there’s some guys that like to walk out on the final green and make that putt, they want the ball with no time on the clock and Rickie’s that guy. Rickie’s a guy you want on your side. It’s unfortunate for Brooks, but I think they picked up an all‑around team guy both playing and in the team room, so I’m excited for him.”

Kisner, who won the WGC Dell Technologies Match Play in March and had success at the 2017 Presidents Cup, has struggled the past few months. He and hot hands Kevin Na and Brendon Todd were among the names being bandied about as a replacement pick for Koepka along with old standbys Phil Mickelson and Jordan Spieth,

“No one else really stepped up and did much from our vantage point,” said Zach Johnson, one of team USA’s assistant captains. “I think you side with experience, camaraderie and chemistry.”

“Rickie has played on a couple Presidents Cup teams, was someone seriously considered for a pick and is well respected and liked by his teammates,” Woods said. “I know he’s going to do a great job for us. We’re all excited about this year’s event. The course is outstanding, the fans will be loud and we’re playing against great competitors. We’re ready to go.”

“When I heard Brooks wasn’t going to be ready to play, I was bummed for him and the team,” Fowler said. “Then I got a call from both Brooks and Tiger. I was humbled and excited to be given the chance. These team events have been some of the most memorable weeks of my career.

“To be picked by Tiger to compete with him and the rest of the team is very special. It is impossible to replace the world’s No. 1, but I can assure my teammates and American golf fans that I will be prepared and ready to do my part to bring home the Presidents Cup.”

The Presidents Cup will return to Melbourne, Australia and The Royal Melbourne Golf Club for the third time Dec. 9-15.

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