Zach Johnson ‘Not Overly Worried’ About Form Of Ryder Cup Stars In PGA Tour Event

The Team USA captain says Max Homa and Justin Thomas's Fortinet Championship performances won't count for much ahead of the match

Zach Johnson takes a shot at the Wyndham Championship at Sedgefield Country Club
Zach Johnson is not concerned about the performances of Max Homa and Justing Thomas at the Fortinet Championship
(Image credit: Getty Images)

While all 12 of the European Ryder Cup team compete in this week’s BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth along with captain Luke Donald, his Team USA counterpart Zach Johnson does not have the same luxury of casting his eye over all his players in a tournament ahead of the biennial match.

Nevertheless, with just two weeks until the action begins at Marco Simone in Italy, the 47-year-old will be teeing it up in the Fortinet Championship on the PGA Tour this week, with two of his 12-player team also in the field.

One of the players Johnson will be keeping tabs on is Max Homa, who appears at Silverado looking for his third successive win in the tournament, while the other is Justin Thomas, who makes his first start since the Wyndham Championship after a disappointing 2023 to date.

Given how close the 47th edition of the Ryder Cup is, there will be plenty of focus on the performances of Homa and Thomas as they aim to gather momentum before heading to Italy. However, Johnson appears determined to take the pressure off the pair this week.

Speaking to the media ahead of the tournament, Johnson initially joked: “Max and JT, I don't really want to speak on behalf of them, but if they don't play well, they may not play. That's the bottom line. Kidding.”

However, he soon offered reassurances that, regardless of how they play in California this week, it will not affect his approach to the match. "Ideally they get some momentum," he said. "Momentum in this game is pretty lethal and can be a really good thing. 

"There’s something to be said about having control of the golf ball for a period of time that shows results, but you never know when that's going to happen and you never know when that's going to leave either.

“I'm not giving a whole lot of merit in that regard. Plus, four days of stroke play is vastly different than five sessions of match play in three days. I mean, hopefully they show some signs of great form. I'm not overly worried about that, concerned about that.”

Johnson also explained how he thinks the extra rest most of his team have between the Tour Championship and the match could work in their favour. He said: “Sounds like the European team might be playing a little bit more because of their schedule and the way it lays out, which is fine. Our guys will be rested.“

However, he insisted it's good thing Homa and Thomas are playing this week. “It's great that JT and Max are playing," he said. "It makes sense that JT's playing because he hasn't played much. Again, I'm not going to give their scorecard a whole lot of merit when it comes to what we're trying to do two weeks from now.”

Johnson also admitted he had begun thinking about potential pairings. He said: “I would be lying to you if I said we hadn't started talking about that, discussing that, kind of piecing things together. It's not like we have it set in stone yet. It's one of those areas that's really, really difficult, but it's also really, really exciting and fun to kind of start to see how this team can take shape.“

Mike Hall

Mike has over 25 years of experience in journalism, including writing on a range of sports throughout that time, such as golf, football and cricket. Now a freelance staff writer for Golf Monthly, he is dedicated to covering the game's most newsworthy stories. 

He has written hundreds of articles on the game, from features offering insights into how members of the public can play some of the world's most revered courses, to breaking news stories affecting everything from the PGA Tour and LIV Golf to developmental Tours and the amateur game. 

Mike grew up in East Yorkshire and began his career in journalism in 1997. He then moved to London in 2003 as his career flourished, and nowadays resides in New Brunswick, Canada, where he and his wife raise their young family less than a mile from his local course. 

Kevin Cook’s acclaimed 2007 biography, Tommy’s Honour, about golf’s founding father and son, remains one of his all-time favourite sports books.