The U.S. Ryder Cup team had a disastrous start to the biennial competition against Europe on Friday, failing to win a single match. While U.S. captain Zach Johnson did not want to make excuses, he revealed that an illness has spread through his team, impacting their performance.
Johnson was vague about the nature of the illness but admitted that it had affected their sluggish start and his decision-making as captain. He expressed gratitude for having a team doctor on hand to navigate through these unforeseen challenges. He mentioned that the illness had passed around between the caddies and players.
Despite the illness, Johnson emphasized that it was not an excuse, as the team has depth. He appreciated the team’s ability and desire to play, despite feeling low on energy. He found it encouraging that every player still wanted to participate in every match.
The U.S. team faces a significant challenge in their quest to end a 30-year drought on European soil. Europe enjoyed a dominant 4-0 sweep in the morning foursomes session and continued their success in the afternoon fourballs matches, ending the day with a commanding 6½-1½ lead.
Johnson’s lineup decisions raised eyebrows, as he chose not to play Jordan Spieth, Justin Thomas, and Brooks Koepka in the morning session. He also sent out two Ryder Cup rookie pairings. The illness in the team affected some of these decisions, and Johnson mentioned that they have contingencies in place based on various factors.
As they face an uphill battle, Johnson acknowledged that there are certain things they cannot control. However, he reassured everyone that they are trying to control the controllables in their team room.
The U.S. team, who won the 2021 Ryder Cup at home in dominant fashion, now finds themselves with a mountain to climb. It remains to be seen how they will respond to this setback and if they can rally to make a comeback in the tournament. The illness adds another layer of adversity to an already tough challenge for the U.S. Ryder Cup team.