PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. (AP) — The Americans recorded the biggest blowout in Europe at the Ryder Cup last year, and their new captain doesn’t see much need to change.
Zach Johnson was introduced on Monday as the 30th USA captain, the next in line to try to end three decades of Ryder Cup loss on European soil.
Johnson was still in high school in 1993 when the Americans won at the Belfry. Expectations have never been higher given their 19-9 victory last September at Whistling Straits behind a young team with perseverance.
The 2023 matches are at Marco Simone in Italy.
“I love going out there and competing. I love to stretch. I like being uncomfortable,” Johnson said. ” It’s going to be hard. But it’s also just a great opportunity to go out there and give these guys a chance to be themselves and play with freedom and that’s kind of how I’m going to approach it.
Team USA went from eight automatic qualifiers and four captain’s picks to six each when the last Ryder Cup was postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic and there was so much uncertainty with the PGA Tour schedule.
Johnson said that would remain the same for 2023 — six qualifiers, six picks. He also said the points system would remain the same, with points available this year only at the four major tournaments, the Players Championship and the only World Golf Championships event now on the schedule.
In line with guidelines issued by the Ryder Cup Task Force in 2014, Steve Stricker has moved from captain to Johnson’s assistant in Italy.
Johnson dodged all questions related to Phil Mickelson following Lefty’s inflammatory remarks about the Saudis funding a rival league proposal and acknowledging how he was trying to manipulate change on the PGA Tour.
Mickelson was thought to be a shoo-in as captain of Bethpage Black in 2025, and future captains usually serve as an assistant.
“Given where we are right now, I have no idea what’s in store for me in terms of my vice-captains and who’s on this team,” Johnson said.
More AP Golf: https://apnews.com/hub/golf and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports