Zach Johnson, the United States captain, says he wants his players to “express themselves” and will not be ordering debutant Sam Burns to get rid of the ‘USA’ he has shaved into his head.
Burns, who will be competing in his first Ryder Cup having been selected as one of Johnson’s six captain’s picks, shared a video on social media last weekend in which he could be seen proudly displaying a mullet with the letters ‘USA’ shaved into the right side of his head above the ear.
The 27 year-old is the second American to sport a new-look mullet after Brooks Koepka was seen with the same look at LIV Golf Chicago last week.
The USA ‘hair-tattoo’ evokes memories of Rickie Fowler, who did the same thing at Gleneagles in 2014.
A number of social media users reacted to Burns’ video by asking whether a child had cut the letters into his scalp, but Johnson laughed when asked whether he had ordered his player to get rid of it.
“That was a direct order, yeah,” he said. “No, I had no idea he’s doing that. He’s got great hair. I mean, I’d do it if I could do it. I just don’t have any hair to do it.
“So they can have fun with it. I’ve got two, three, four guys who have it short on the sides and long in the front and long in the back. You know what, hey, more power to them. If they are more comfortable, that’s what it’s about.”
Johnson, sitting alongside Europe captain Luke Donald in the opening-day captains press conference, said he wanted his players to be comfortable expressing themselves, baulking at the suggestion that Europe’s players down the years tended to thrive off the passion and colour of the Ryder Cup whereas the Americans preferred things to be “clinical and ordinary and what it would look like week-to-week [on tour]”.
“I think Team USA has incorporated both [passion and clinicality],” he replied. “I’m confident saying that.
“I think what my role is – and I’m assuming Luke would have to agree, too – is that guys know what they are doing. They are professional golfers and they are the best players in the world.
“My role is to give them access to anything and everything they need, whether it’s personnel, or you know, specifically a gym, or recovery, their bed, whatever it may be. That’s my role to kind of remove the clutter so they can go be who they are… so that they can go be who they are.”
It is unclear whether Burns will keep his haircut for the duration of the week, but it did Fowler few favours at Gleneagles.
The American, who will be playing in his fifth Ryder Cup in Rome, did not win a match all week, returning 1.5points in five matches as Europe retained the Cup.
Donald, meanwhile, said his heart rate would be through the roof this Sunday if his players did what Europe’s Solheim Cup players did last weekend.
Europe managed to retain the Cup on the Costa del Sol after Spain’s Carlotta Ciganda birdied the 16th and 17th holes at Finca Cortesin to beat Nelly Korda in the penultimate match and make it 14-14.
“I think when you don’t have control, when you’re watching as a spectator as I will be, I think that’s when you really feel nervous,” said Donald who was in Spain last Friday before flying to Rome.
“But certainly a lot of the guys were talking about it. A lot of the guys were posting stuff on their socials, and you know, I think that’s only good inspiration for our team going forward for this week.”