To those who had been following it closely, it wasn’t much of a surprise when the Associated Press reported Zach Johnson would be the next U.S. Ryder Cup captain.
As for the players? No surprise there, either.
“I like Zach; he’s always been fun in the team rooms,” said Brooks Koepka, speaking to reporters at the Honda Classic on Wednesday. “He’s been kind of a little bit of a rah-rah guy, which is always good. … We all knew he was in line, knew it was going to happen sooner or later, so it’s nice to see him get one. But yeah, the stuff he does behind closed doors is what I think makes the big difference, and I think every guy that’s played on a team that he’s been an assistant or played with him would definitely agree with that and be happy to see him do it.”
According to the AP, the 45-year-old two-time major champ is expected to be announced as Ryder Cup captain next week in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla. The next Ryder Cup is scheduled for September 2023 in Rome.
Johnson has played on five Ryder Cup teams, compiling an 8-7-2 record. The only time he was on a winning team was in 2016, when the U.S. beat Europe at Hazeltine in Minnesota. He was a vice captain in both 2018 and 2021 and often considered a likely candidate for a future captaincy.
“I think he’s such a great blend of kind of new school/old school,” said Daniel Berger, speaking to reporters after his opening-round 65 at the Honda Classic. “He’s been a part of so many big teams and he’s played on Tour for so long and he’s so well respected among us out here that when he says something, you listen. Having spent some time with him at the Ryder Cup this year, I know he’s going to make a great captain.”
Johnson wasn’t Berger’s pod leader at Whistling Straits in 2021, but Berger mentioned that you spend so much time together anyway, it’s easy to get to know everyone better than you did before.
“He’s very chill,” Berger said. “He kind of reminds me of captain Stricker. He’s very low key, lets the guys do what they need to do to get ready, and he has great experience from Ryder Cups in the past.”
Johnson will have his work cut out for him, though. The last time the Americans won a road game was in 1993, when the U.S. beat Europe 15-13 at The Belfry in England. The Europeans have won the last six on their home soil.