Zach Johnson Named US Ryder Cup Captain

Two-time Major winner Johnson, a vice-captain in last year's record win, will be skipper in Italy in 2023

Zach Johnson named USA Ryder Cup captain for the 2023 match in Rome, Italy
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Zach Johnson has been confirmed as the USA’s Ryder Cup captain for next year’s match against Europe in Rome. The 46-year-old two-time Major winner was one of Steve Stricker’s vice-captains as the USA enjoyed a record 19-9 victory over Padraig Harrington’s team at Whistling Straits last September. One of his first moves was to install Stricker as one of his vice-captains.

“To accept this captaincy, to lead this United States Ryder Cup Team abroad - after what we accomplished last year at Whistling Straits - is simply the greatest honour of my professional career," said Johnson.

While Team USA beat Europe by a record margin last time out, Johnson will be faced with the difficult task of winning the Ryder Cup on European soil, a feat last achieved by an American team nearly 30 years ago, when Tom Watson’s USA triumphed 15-13 over Bernard Gallacher’s European side at The Belfry in 1993.

“As exciting as this is for both my family and me, it is equally sobering to understand the scope of our challenge in Rome, as we have not won on the road in three decades,” added Johnson. “To win, we will have to outplay a European Team that will have both ample talent and motivation on their side. I am anxious to dig in and begin the process of putting our team in the best possible position to succeed."

Johnson must also overcome his less than stellar Ryder Cup record as a player if he is to continue USA’s recent success. He played in five Ryder Cups, losing the first four before tasting victory in the 2016 edition at Hazeltine National Golf Club in Chaska, Minnesota. His Major successes came at the 2007 Masters and the 2015 Open.

In a defiant message posted on the USA Ryder Cup account @RyderCupUSA, Johnson looked ahead to ending that drought for the visitors on European soil.

He said: “"I know we are not supposed to win on European soil. Well, I'm used to 'not supposed to'. Not supposed to make it on Tour or win two Majors and certainly not supposed to make five Ryder Cup teams, but here's the thing - I love it when not supposed to, do.”

The 12-strong USA team will be made up of the top six American players on the US points list, with Johnson having six captain’s picks to complete the line-up.

Europe are yet to name their captain for the 44th edition of the Ryder Cup, which is set to be held at Marco Simone Golf Club from September 29 - October 1.

Lee Westwood, who was the favourite to be next European captain before ruling himself out to concentrate on trying to qualify for the team for a record equalling 12th time, last week backed Luke Donald and Henrik Stenson as the frontrunners for the position.

Jeff Kimber
Jeff Kimber

Jeff graduated from Leeds University in Business Studies and Media in 1996 and did a post grad in journalism at Sheffield College in 1997. His first jobs were on Slam Dunk (basketball) and Football Monthly magazines, and he's worked for the Sunday Times, Press Association and ESPN. He has faced golfing greats Sam Torrance and Sergio Garcia, but on the poker felt rather than the golf course. Jeff's favourite course played is Sandy Lane in Barbados, which went far better than when he played Matfen Hall in Northumberland, where he crashed the buggy on the way to the 1st tee!