‘I’ll take the burden’: Tearful Zach Johnson talks disappointing Ryder Cup finish

Zach Johnson's U.S. Ryder Cup team fell 16.5-11.5 at Marco Simone.


The drought continues for Team USA.

Heading into this week’s Ryder Cup, all the talk surrounded Team USA’s chance to make history. It had been 30 years since the Americans won on European soil. But this time, many felt it would be different.

The U.S. team was as deep as ever, with a roster of major champs and Ryder Cup stalwarts. Team Europe — at the mercy of Father Time and LIV defections — had a new look. Gone were the heart and soul that powered the previous generation’s dominance (Garcia, Poulter, Westwood, Stenson). If the Euros hoped to extend the streak, it would have to be with a new cast of characters.

The faces might’ve been different at Marco Simone, but the result was all the same. With the benefit of home-field advantage, European dominance reigned supreme. After a 4-0 start to the week, the Euros never looked back, and by Sunday afternoon, they were hoisting the Ryder Cup yet again.

“Not many people gave us a chance after Whistling Straits,” European captain Luke Donald said. “We were big underdogs. We started to show some form in the last six months, and I couldn’t be happier with the team I got. I think these guys will be around for a long time, and we’re going to put up a great fight in two years’ time.”

It was jubilation for the Euros, and heartbreak for Team USA. This was supposed to be the team that broke the streak. This team was too deep and too talented. This was supposed to be the year.

But as so often has been the case for the last three decades, Team USA will take the long flight home and go back to the drawing board.

“This is a moment where you literally just have to accept that the European Team played really, really good golf,” U.S. captain Zach Johnson said. “That is really my freshest reflection right now.”

In the coming days and weeks, Johnson’s captaincy will be analyzed and audited. Every captain’s pick scrutinized and every line-up decision second-guessed. This is a fact Johnson is willing to accept — especially if it keeps the blame away from his 12 players.

“I’ll do the interviews. I’ll do the media. I’ll take the burden on me,” Johnson said as he choked back tears in an interview with NBC’s Steve Sands. “Those guys are amazing. I’d take my 12 [players] in any cup. They’re amazing individuals — on and off the golf course. It ain’t about me.”

Johnson’s captaincy ended in disappointment, but he’s not the first U.S. captain unable to take back the Cup. Jim Furyk, Tom Watson and Davis Love III all know the feeling, as do Hal Sutton, Corey Pavin and Tom Lehman.

Misery loves company, and Johnson is just the latest member of this unfortunate club. The tears will dry, but it seems as though the sting of this loss will stick with Johnson for quite some time.

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.