Kevin Kisner does not deserve your pity. The four-time PGA Tour winner has lived a charmed golf life, capturing more than $25 million in on-course earnings to go along with a decade worth of major championship starts.
But Kevin Kisner does deserve your attention. He’s been one of the best match play competitors — if not the best match play competitor — in golf over the span of the past decade. And yet even with those credentials, he has never been selected to compete in golf’s most significant match play tournament, the Ryder Cup.
Months after watching the U.S. team claim victory at Whistling Straits from the sidelines, Kisner still hasn’t forgotten about his Ryder Cup snub.
“I don’t know, man. They don’t like me I, guess,” Kisner told GOLF’s Subpar podcast. “I’ve had the same phone call for about four [Ryder Cups] in a row from about every captain. ‘Man, you were on the team and then you didn’t play well in the playoffs.’ OK, bud.”
If match play resume is part of the criteria, Kisner certainly has an argument. In five starts at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play, between 2016-2021, he’s 16-6-2, including a victory at the event in 2019. In his only Presidents Cup, in 2019, Kis also proved his mettle as a team-play competitor, going 2-0-1 in three matches split between foursomes and four ball.
Between the Dell and the Presidents Cup, Kisner feels he’s made a convincing argument in favor of his Ryder Cup candidacy. But time and time again, he’s watched as players with lesser match play resumes have been selected to the U.S. team over him to varying levels of success.
In 2021, Kisner looked primed to flip the script. He won at the Wyndham Championship in August, and though he remained a safe distance from an automatic bid onto the U.S. team, was a popular choice among fans for one of captain Steve Stricker’s six captain’s picks.
But then came the FedEx Cup Playoffs, and the Aiken, S.C., native struggled, following up a missed cut at the Northern Trust by finishing tied for last at the BMW Championship. When it came time to make his captain’s picks, Stricker opted for youth — choosing 25-year-old Scottie Scheffler over Kisner and others.
“I don’t know. I didn’t give a s—,” he said. “It’s too political for me, I didn’t really care, and I don’t really get caught up in that s—. I love Stricker to death, but he didn’t pick me this year, which I get — I didn’t play worth a s— in the playoff.”
It may be too late for Kisner, who turns 38 next month, to have his Ryder Cup moment. He’ll be nearly 40 when the Ryder Cup returns in 2023, and while it’s still early, it appears the landscape for American talent is only growing more competitive. It’s a reality he’s confronted, that one of the finest match play competitors in a generation could go his entire career without a Ryder Cup start.
For Kisner, that would be a shame, but certainly not a pity.
“Whatever, it’s fine,” he said. “I don’t really care. I love playing team golf, I love representing the U.S., I’d love to be on any team possible. But if my career ended tomorrow, I’d be perfectly content with everything I’ve accomplished. If you had told me 15 years ago, you’re going to have four wins, play in a Presidents Cup, play in 35 straight majors, or whatever I’ve done, I would have said, ‘You’re f—ing crazy.’”