U.S. Ryder Cup Captain Zach Johnson announces his team will make early trip to Italy
ROCHESTER, N.Y. – The U.S. Ryder Cup team is going to Italy — at least twice.
It’s still months away until the U.S. Ryder Cup team is finalized, but U.S. Captain Zach Johnson announced on Wednesday that the team will make a three-day trip to Rome ahead of the Ryder Cup at Marco Simone Golf Club in September.
“I made it a priority and I’m very grateful that the powers that be at the PGA of America have granted me that liberty, in the sense that I’m taking the 12 guys that make my team to Rome two weeks prior to the event — two and a half weeks prior to the event, so that way we get our feet on the grounds, they get their feet on the grounds, experience Marco Simone firsthand,” Johnson said during a pre-tournament press conference ahead of the 105th PGA Championship at Oak Hill. “Then when we leave and come back home for two weeks, they’ll have at least, I think, a pretty realistic expectation as to what is required.”
In 2021, the U.S. team made a similar reconnaissance trip, which also helped build team morale, ahead of the Ryder Cup at Whistling Straits in Wisconsin. The U.S. side went on to rout Team Europe 19-9 and take possession of the Cup. But it hasn’t won on foreign soil in 30 years.
“I think it helps. I think that trip right there is going to be crucial,” Johnson said. “That’s a strong word, but I think just key for a number of reasons. Certainly chemistry and camaraderie and all that good stuff inside the locker room. But more than that, we all know Monday through Thursday is pretty trying. There’s a lot that goes on. And if we have any weather issues or just things get really congested and difficult and tight, they’ve already experienced it, so they don’t have to push themselves immensely.”
In 2006, U.S. Captain Tom Lehman organized a trip to the K Club in Ireland, ahead of the biennial match which the Americans lost 18½ -9½, so previewing the course ahead of time has had mixed results. Jim Furyk, who was at the helm for the U.S.’s most recent away defeat in Paris in 2018 and will serve as a vice captain to Johnson this go-round, conceded that his team didn’t have sufficient time to prepare for the tight fairways and heavy rough at Le Golf National.
In the past, it has been considered a challenge to get team members to schedule a get-together at the same time on relatively short notice, but Johnson expressed confidence that the bulk of the players and caddies, who will represent the stars and stripes will be present on his trip.
“The only thing I can do right now is communicate that,” he said of a team gathering in Italy. “Communicate, one, that it’s a priority to me; two, that it’s a priority to Team USA and the PGA of America; and, three, put it on your radar, put it on your calendar. So I’ve done that.
“I don’t know how far down the list I’ve gone, but I’ve done that to the guys. I have not heard anything that says that no one is in support of that. Granted, Wisconsin is a lot easier to get to, but everybody made it a priority…If you can get the high, high percentage of them there, that’s massive.”
The 2023 Ryder Cup is scheduled for September 29 to October 1.