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Ryder Cup captain: Tiger will have role

by ANDREW DAMPF AP Sports Writer | October 5, 2022 at 2:26 a.m.
United States Captain Zach Johnson hits a tee shot during an exhibition match on the occasion of The Year to Go event at the Marco Simone course that will host the 2023 Ryder Cup, in Guidonia Montecelio, near Rome, Italy, Monday, Oct. 3, 2022. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)

ROME -- Whether Tiger Woods makes it to Italy or not for next year's Ryder Cup, he'll be an integral member of the U.S. team, captain Zach Johnson said Tuesday at the year-to-go ceremonies.

"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," Johnson said. "He already is, practically.

"I can't put this mildly -- he loves the Ryder Cup. 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."

Woods was a player on eight Ryder Cup teams and a vice captain in 2018. But he broke bones in his right leg and ankle in a February 2021 car crash outside Los Angeles.

Next year's event will be held on the hilly Marco Simone course outside Rome.

"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 said. "He has great ideas. He is great at encouragement, always positive."

The U.S. romped to a record 19-9 rout of Europe at Whistling Straits, Wis., last year, and also won the Presidents Cup comfortably last month.

"The beauty of where we are as Team USA is we've got some really great youth," Johnson said. "And their role model on the golf course is Tiger Woods.

"I don't know what's going to happen next September, but you can rest assured that he will be in constant communication with our team."

Marco Simone will become the third venue in continental Europe to host the Ryder Cup after Valderrama in Spain (1997) and Le Golf National in France (2018).

The course was completely redesigned with the Ryder Cup and match play in mind, with even the order and direction of some holes reversed.

The revamped course proved to be quite a test when the Italian Open was held there twice over the past 13 months.

"Thirteen under won a year ago; 14 under won this year, which [shows] that it is a good test of golf," Donald said.

At the highest points of the course, there are views of St. Peter's Basilica in the far distance.

The key holes all come at the end: the drivable par-4 16th, a tricky par-3 17th and a downhill par-5 18th with water lining the green.

While Rory McIlroy led a strong contingent of European players at last month's Italian Open at Marco Simone, no big-name Americans showed up.

  photo  European Captain Luke Donald hits a tee shot during an exhibition match on the occasion of The Year to Go event at the Marco Simone course that will host the 2023 Ryder Cup, in Guidonia Montecelio, near Rome, Italy, Monday, Oct. 3, 2022. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)
 
 
  photo  European Captain Luke Donald, left, and United States Captain Zach Johnson play during an exhibition match on the occasion of The Year to Go event at the Marco Simone course that will host the 2023 Ryder Cup, in Guidonia Montecelio, near Rome, Italy, Monday, Oct. 3, 2022. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)
 
 
  photo  United States Captain Zach Johnson, left, and European Captain Luke Donald attend a press conference on the occasion of The Year to Go event in Rome, Tuesday, Oct. 4, 2022. The Marco Simone course of Guidonia Montecelio, near Rome, will host the 2023 Ryder Cup. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)
 
 
  photo  FILE - Tiger Woods, left, and then-United States team vice-captain Zach Johnson stand on the 8th green to watch a foursome match on the opening day of the 42nd Ryder Cup at Le Golf National in Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines, outside Paris, France, on Sept. 28, 2018. Whether Woods makes it to Italy or not for next year’s Ryder Cup, he’ll be an integral member of the U.S. team, captain Zach Johnson said Tuesday, Oct. 4, 2022, at the year-to-go ceremonies. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham, File)
 
 
  photo  United States Captain Zach Johnson, left, and European Captain Luke Donald pose with the Ryder Cup trophy after a press conference on the occasion of The Year to Go event in Rome, Tuesday, Oct. 4, 2022. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)
 
 
  photo  United States Captain Zach Johnson, right, and European Captain Luke Donald shake hands before a press conference on the occasion of The Year to Go event in Rome, Tuesday, Oct. 4, 2022. The Marco Simone course of Guidonia Montecelio, near Rome, will host the 2023 Ryder Cup. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)
 
 
  photo  United States Captain Zach Johnson attends a press conference on the occasion of The Year to Go event in Rome, Tuesday, Oct. 4, 2022. The Marco Simone course of Guidonia Montecelio, near Rome, will host the 2023 Ryder Cup. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)
 
 
  photo  Europe Captain Luke Donald attends a press conference on the occasion of The Year to Go event in Rome, Tuesday, Oct. 4, 2022. The Marco Simone course of Guidonia Montecelio, near Rome, will host the 2023 Ryder Cup. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)
 
 
  photo  United States Captain Zach Johnson, left, and European Captain Luke Donald pose with the Ryder Cup trophy after a press conference on the occasion of The Year to Go event in Rome, Tuesday, Oct. 4, 2022. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)
 
 

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