Zach Johnson, the United States team captain for the Ryder Cup, said Tiger Woods will have a role with the team no matter if he makes it to Italy next year or not.
Woods has been a mainstay on the Ryder Cup US team for the past eight tournaments, but he is still dealing with the effects of the car crash he went through in February 2021, where he broke bones in his right leg and ankle.
Nevertheless, Johnson understands the importance of Woods on his team.
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“Given who he is and what he’s all about, I can tell you right now, I don’t know if he’ll be here next year, but he’ll be a part of this team in some capacity,” he told reporters . “He already is, practically.”
Next year’s tournament will be held in Rome, Italy at Marco Simone Golf & Country Club, which is a naturally hilly course. Walking that course, let alone playing competitive golf, requires any golfer to have a strong lower half. Woods still has time before that comes, but Johnson understands his current situation.
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“Obviously he’s gone through some things as of late that make it difficult, whether it’s travel or what have you, but he and I will be in constant communication,” Johnson explained. “He has great ideas. He is great at encouragement, always positive.”
Woods’ competitive spirit is the epitome of what the Ryder Cup is all about, which is why the US team has enjoyed him be a part of it. He was recently a vice captain during the 2018 Ryder Cup.
“I can’t put this mildly – he loves the Ryder Cup,” Johnson said. “He has made it a priority of his and certainly of Team USA. He wants to be a part of it as best he can.”
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Woods’ last tournament came in July at The Open Championship, where he was cut after shooting nine over par in his two rounds at St. Andrews in Scotland. He withdrew from the PGA Championship after shooting 12-over in three rounds, and he shot 13-over at the Masters, though he made the cut after the first two days.
The US whooped the European team, 19-9, during last year’s tournament at Whistling Straits in Wisconsin. Luke Donald, Europe’s captain in Rome next year, will be leading his group that will likely be underdogs but haven’t lost on home soil since 1993.
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It was the first US victory in the tournament since 2016.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.