United States Ryder Cup captain Zach Johnson will lead his entire 12-man team on a reconnaissance mission at Marco Simone Golf & Country Club in Rome ahead of the biennial competition against Europe.
The United States has not won the Ryder Cup on European soil since 1993 and so Johnson has made it a priority to give his players a chance to get to familiarise themselves with the course before arriving on site for the Sept. 29-Oct. 1 event.
“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 on Wednesday at the PGA Championship,
“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.”
Johnson has plenty of Ryder Cup experience having played in the event on five occasions while also serving as vice captain at the last two editions and feels the fact-finding mission at Marco Simone will provide many benefits.
For Johnson, the “crucial” visit is not just about building chemistry and camaraderie but also so the players have a chance to get to know the course before stepping into a busy Ryder Cup week that is filled with demands and distractions.
“We all know Monday through Thursday is pretty trying. There’s a lot that goes on,” said Johnson.
“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.”
Johnson said he has already reached out to several of the players on the Ryder Cup qualifying list to inform them of his plans to visit Marco Simone and that so far he has not heard anything that suggests anyone is not in support of the idea.
The PGA Tour’s season-ending Tour Championship in Atlanta wraps up on Aug. 27, which Johnson feels will give his team enough time to both rest and participate in the pre-Ryder Cup visit to Rome.
“The beauty of it is there’s four weeks between the Tour Championship and the Ryder Cup,” said Johnson.
“I’m confident knowing that these guys -- again, I know they’re making it a priority, so I know they’ll take care of their bodies, but if there’s anything I can do along the way, I’m certainly going to give it its full attention.”
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