Johnson ready for blame if US should fall at Ryder Cup

golf12 September 2023 22:19| © AFP
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Zach Johnson © Gallo Images

US Ryder Cup captain Zach Johnson said on Tuesday he is ready to handle criticism if the Americans lose to Europe in two weeks at Italy after a dominating 2021 triumph.

Seeing the disappointment over a fourth-place finish by US NBA stars at the Basketball World Cup, Johnson accepts he might pay a price if the Americans cannot snap a 30-year win drought on European soil.

"I've thought about it," Johnson said. "I kind of know what I'm signing up for. That being said, I didn't know all of what was going to be shot at me. There's no way to really know that.

"All the arrows, some of them you just deflect and some of them you've got to veer and just try to navigate what you can. I don't mind it.

"I love responsibility, I love difficulty, I love being pushed and somewhat being uncomfortable if that makes sense."

Johnson said full credit for victory should go to his 12-man team but he accepts his share of blame for a defeat.

"If we lose this, there's probably some merit some of that can go on me," Johnson said. "I fully accept that, that's what I signed up for.

"I hope that's not the case but I'm at peace with whatever comes my way."

Johnson spoke ahead of the PGA Tour's Fortinet Championship, which starts Thursday at Napa, California.

Two-time defending Fortinet champion Max Homa and two-time major winner Justin Thomas from the US squad will compete in the field.

Thomas, a controversial captain's pick without a top-eight finish in seven months, has not played in six weeks after missing the FedEx Cup playoffs.


Homa went 4-0 in the 2022 Presidents Cup the week after a Napa triumph.

"Ideally they get some momentum. Momentum in this game is pretty lethal and can be a really good thing," Johnson said.

"I'm not going to give their scorecard a whole lot of merit when it comes to what we're trying to do two weeks from now.

"Four days of stroke play is vastly different than five sessions of match play in three days."

Most of the US team visited the Marco Simone host course near Rome last week for a sneak peek at the challenging layout they will face.

"When we get there, they don't have to force it and push themselves to get their feet on the grounds that much because they already know what to expect," Johnson said.

US vice captain Stewart Cink said the layout will be so difficult that some players won't mind sitting out certain foursomes or four-ball sessions.

"It's so hilly and the temperature could be pretty hot, too," Cink said.

"I think guys are going to be happy to probably rest. There's not going to be a lot of disappointment for not playing.

"It's probably the most demanding physically of any Cup course I've ever seen that I've been a part of."

Johnson has already started putting together possible pairings for the US squad.

"We're starting to get into some possible pairings to see what's best for that golf course and for our team," Johnson said. "It's not like we have it set in stone yet.

"It's one of those areas that's really difficult, but it's also really exciting and fun to start to see how this team can take shape."