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Ryder Cup captain Zach Johnson has jokes for Max Homa, Justin Thomas

Ryder Cup captain Zach Johnson has jokes for Max Homa, Justin Thomas

NAPA, Calif. – Zach Johnson is wearing two hats this week – one of which is trying to prepare to play in the Fortinet Championship, which begins on Thursday, and the other is prepping as captain of Team USA for the Ryder Cup in Rome, which begins on Sept. 29 and included two impromptu Zoom calls when he woke up Tuesday.

He said he’s taking both jobs seriously, including laying down the gauntlet to his two Ryder Cup players in the field this week, Max Homa and Justin Thomas.

“Max and J.T., 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,” said Johnson speaking at a pre-tournament press conference, before adding, “Kidding.”

“There was a little hesitation there, did you see that?” said Stewart Cink, one of Johnson’s vice captains for the Ryder Cup and a past champion at the Fortinet Championship.

Johnson continued, and said he had some concerns whether he should play this week.

“At the same time, given the people I have around me, specifically someone like Stewart and our other peers, our leadership captains if you will, we’ve done a lot of good work to date,” Johnson said.

He had little doubt that it would be beneficial for Homa and Thomas, in particular, to get some reps under tournament conditions.

“I don’t think it’s ever bad to go compete. That’s what we’re designed to do, that’s where we’re wired,” he said. “Ideally they get some momentum. Momentum in this game is pretty lethal and can be a really good thing.”

He added: “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.”

“I think it’s inevitable that whatever Max and J.T. do this week will be overstated to the good or to the bad,” Cink said. “I hope they both win. I don’t think that’s possible, but I hope they both win. That would be great for their confidence alone.

And we tie for third,” Johnson said.

Confidence is knowing your best golf is still to come.

“We hope that they have confidence coming out of this week and that would be a great thing,” Cink said.


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