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Evening Standard
Evening Standard
Sport
Matt Majendie

Ryder Cup 2023: Zach Johnson wishes he’d trusted his ‘gut’ as Team Europe emerge victorious in Rome

Zach Johnson wished he’d trusted his gut more after losing out on the Ryder Cup to Europe on Sunday.

The American captain refused to say he had regrets, and also defended the team’s preparation going into the event despite the magnitude of the 16.5-11.5 loss to Europe.

After failing to claw back a record deficit in the singles, Johnson said: “There were moments there where you really just check your gut. Regret is a strong word but I wish I would have done a better job of that.”

The two-time major winner said he had no idea how the event might have played out differently had he trusted his gut more.

Europe dominated the opening three sessions before the United States staged a comeback, which proved too little too late despite some strong showings in the final day singles.

“I don’t know what it looks like, never will,” he said of if he had done things differently. “But it’s not a matter of anything other than Team Europe scored more points.”

American players have been critical of their captains in the past, Phil Mickelson very publicly taking down captain Tom Watson following the 2014 defeat at Gleneagles.

But the American players were defensive of Johnson and his pre-match preparations for the biennial event.

Asked if he would have changed anything, Justin Thomas said: “I personally don’t think so. I thought it was really great of Zach and the PGA to be accommodating to have us come over here and take a little scouting trip.

“And the loss that we had this week has absolutely nothing to do with team camaraderie because this is probably the closest team I’ve ever been a part of. We unfortunately just didn’t play well enough. I didn’t feel the preparation was necessarily the issue.”

Much of the American line-up of 12 players had come in relatively rusty having not played for five weeks.

But despite his players appearing rusty in the Friday morning foursomes in particular, Johnson said: “There’s something to be said about rest and recovering and getting your game in a position where you can go compete. These guys have won a lot of golf tournaments with weeks off. We had the prep time here.

“I thought I had a fairly appropriate plan in place. I am not going to slight the preparation of these guys. I know they are working their tails off to retain and bring the cup back home.”

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