Zach Johnson reveals ‘worst part’ of Ryder Cup captaincy

Zach Johnson will lead the U.S. team in Rome at the end of the month.

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Being a Ryder Cup captain isn’t all sunshine and rainbows. The position comes with plenty of prestige, but there’s also back-breaking pressure. As the leader of your team, the successes and failures come back to you.

Zach Johnson is getting his first taste of this reality.

As the captain who will lead Team USA in Rome in just a couple of weeks, the two-time major winner’s reputation is on the line. If he can guide the Americans to their first win on European soil in 30 years, he’ll be a legend. If not, he’ll be just another captain that struggled to bring the Cup back across the Atlantic.

“Just really excited,” Johnson said earlier this week. “Really excited about having my 12 guys complete. Really excited that these are the guys that all of us, corporately, feel like we can go on a mission with only one goal. But we’re going to do it together. We’re going to do it with character. We’re going to do it with high class. We’re going to do it with the integrity that the Ryder Cup deserves.”

That excitement is only ramping up as the Ryder Cup gets closer. But even with the butterflies that come with the impending competition, there’s still stress in the unknown.

How will the captain’s picks perform? Who will be the vocal leader of the team? How will the team respond to adversity? In the coming weeks, all those questions will be answered — and Johnson’s captaincy will be defined by them.

But even with the uncertainty of what’s to come, the downside of the job is actually something Johnson has sole control over — making the pairings.

“At this point in this captainship the worst part of my job is sitting guys, you know?” Johnson said at this week’s Fortinet Championship. “I’d like for all the guys to play every session, can’t do that either, but that’s the way it is and everybody knows that.”

Just like in any team sport, setting the lineups can make or break your team. And in the Ryder Cup, that rings true. Chemistry between partners and harmony between their games is crucial. If the Americans want to come back to the U.S. with the Cup in tow, Johnson will have to push all the right buttons when making the lineups.

“I kind of know what I’m signing up for,” Johnson said. “It’s what I signed up for, I love responsibility, I love difficulty, I love being pushed and somewhat being uncomfortable if that makes sense. I do know that if we win this, it will be those 12 guys. I mean that sounds really obvious, but it will be. It will be them playing golf and winning the Ryder Cup for Team USA. If we lose this, I think there’s probably some merit some of that can go on me. And I fully accept that, that’s what I signed up for.”

Zephyr Melton Editor

Zephyr Melton is an assistant editor for 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