Why Zach Johnson does NOT believe the U.S. will be Ryder Cup favorites

tommy fleetwood celebrates

Team Europe has dominated on home soil in recent Ryder Cups.

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The future is bright for Team USA.

They’re fresh off a 17.5-12.5 drubbing of the International squad in the Presidents Cup, and last fall they were similarly dominant in the Ryder Cup. Their talent pool is full of youth — half the team were rookies at Quail Hollow, and eight were younger than 30 — and the biggest issue facing each captain is figuring out who to leave off the team.

Zach Johnson of The United States talks to the media in a press conference during the Ryder Cup 2023 Year to Go Media Event at Marco Simone Golf Club on October 04, 2022 in Rome, Italy and Tiger Woods of the United States reacts during singles matches of the 2018 Ryder Cup at Le Golf National on September 30, 2018 in Paris, France.
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Despite the embarrassment of riches at their disposal, and the recent success in team competitions, there’s still one roadblock the Americans have not yet hurdled — winning on European soil. The Americans haven’t won in Europe since 1993, and each loss cuts deeper than the last. The most recent Ryder Cup on European soil featured a stacked team of Americans getting trounced at Le Golf National.

For this reason, 2023 Ryder Cup captain Zach Johnson refuses to buy into the hype around heading into next fall’s Ryder Cup. The Americans have long been favored when heading across the pond only to take a beating once there, and he won’t fall into a similar trap.

“Do I really think the Europeans are underdogs? I can give you a one-word answer: No,” Johnson said in a recent press conference. “They are not underdogs. They are on their home soil.”

Johnson might be hesitant to claim superiority based on history, but recent events have changed the calculus a bit. Many of the European stalwarts have aged out of the competition, while others (Sergio Garcia, Lee Westwood, Ian Poulter) have been deemed ineligible after defecting to LIV Golf. In fact, just this summer, the European side had to replace their captain after Henrik Stenson decided to play for LIV.

Still, Johnson won’t buy it. The odds might look in his favor, but in this competition, anything can happen.

“On paper can be subjective as well,” he said. “I don’t think it’s all that objective in my opinion. I understand that. But at the same time, there’s something to be said about having confidence and momentum where you’re comfortable, and evidently, they have been very comfortable over here for 30 years. So, no.”


Zephyr Melton

Golf.com Editor

Zephyr Melton is an assistant editor for GOLF.com where he spends his days blogging, producing and editing. Prior to joining the team at GOLF, he attended the University of Texas followed by stops with the Texas Golf Association, Team USA, the Green Bay Packers and the PGA Tour. He assists on all things instruction and covers amateur and women’s golf. He can be reached at zephyr_melton@golf.com.