ROME – Whether or not Tiger Woods travels to Italy for next year’s Ryder Cup, he will be a vital member of Team USA, captain Zach Johnson said Tuesday at next year’s event.
“Looking at who he is and what he’s about, I can tell you now, I don’t know if he’s going to be here next year, but he’s going to be a part of this team at some point,” Johnson said. It already is, practically.
“I can’t put it mildly — he loves the Ryder Cup. It’s his priority, and certainly the U.S. team’s. He wants to be a part of it as much as possible.”
Woods was an eight-team player and vice-captain of the 2018 Ryder Cup team. In February 2021, he broke bones in his right leg and ankle in a car accident outside of Los Angeles.
Next year’s event will be held on the hilly Marco Simone course outside Rome.
“Obviously he’s been through some things, whether it’s travel or what have you, but he and I are in constant contact,” Johnson said. “He has great ideas. He’s good at encouraging, always positive.”
The US beat Europe 19-9 in Whistling Straits, Wisconsin last year and comfortably won the Presidents Cup last month.
“The beauty of where we are as a team in the United States is we’ve got some really good young guys,” Johnson said. “Their role model on the golf course is Tiger Woods.
“I don’t know what will happen next September, but you can be sure that he will be in constant contact with our team.”
The status of several top players is in doubt for the 2023 edition following allegations on both sides of the Atlantic involving the Saudi-backed series LIV Golf.
But European captain Luke Donald said there had been “not a single conversation” with US officials this week about the clash.
Johnson had nothing to say about it.
“We’re two separate entities and there are forces that are smarter than me looking at this… that’s out of my jurisdiction and out of my control,” Johnson told The Associated Press. “I’m looking for 12 guys who want to be on the 2023 US Ryder Cup team.”
The USA’s performance in Wisconsin and the Presidents Cup victory featured a team with 12 players in the top 25 in the world rankings, and the Americans could be favored next year.
It will be like a new wrinkle between Sept. 29-Oct. In the year 1, 2023 event, 30 years have passed since Europe last lost at home — in 1993 at England’s The Belfry.
“I fully expect us to be the underdogs, regardless of the (home) winning percentage they’ve had over the last 30 years,” Donald said.
Johnson was asked if he really thought Europe was inferior.
“I can give you a one-word answer: ‘No,'” Johnson said. “Obviously, they’ve been very comfortable here for 30 years. So, ‘No.’
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.