It’s hard to for me to believe that Dustin Johnson is now the elder statesman on the US Ryder Cup team. It feels like yesterday DJ was one of these twenty somethings, albeit on the older end, ready to take the PGA Tour by storm.
Johnson, now 37, brings the most experience to what is a surprisingly young American Ryder Cup squad. He’s the oldest player by 5 years. Tony Finau and Harris English are both 32. Finau is only playing in his 2nd Ryder Cup, Harris is a rookie.
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To give you a sense of how inexperienced in the Ryder Cup is, consider this. Dustin Johnson has played in the most Ryder Cups, four, on this team. On top of that, there are only three players that were on the team that last won in 2016 at Hazeltine. Dustin Johnson, Brooks Koepka, and Jordan Spieth.
Johnson has been through all of the wars this event has to offer. The aforementioned win at Hazeltine, the shellacking at Gleneagles in 2014, and Le Golf National in 2018. He was also there for the epic collapse of the Americans on Sunday at Medinah in 2012. For the record, Johnson did defeat Nicolas Colsaerts in his singles match, one of only three American victories that day.
Having six Ryder Cup rookies on this team might be a double edged sword. On one hand guys like Collin Morikawa, Xander Schauffele, and Patrick Cantlay are all top 10 players who are so skilled and also don’t know how to lose on a stage this big. On the other hand, the pressure of the Ryder Cup is heightened tremendously.
You can make the argument that this will be the most intense weekend of golf these guys will have played in their lives. The stakes are so much higher, the crowds are so much louder. That’s where DJ’s experience comes in.
I think it would be wise for Steve Stricker to pair Johnson with one of these rookies in each session he plays. His wisdom and level demeanor could prove to be crucial on the first two days. Although it seems like these young guns are fearless, the Ryder Cup is a completely different ballgame.
Dustin Johnson needs to lead this team. He won’t have to do it alone, of course, with Stricker as captain, Jim Furyk, Phil Mickelson, Fred Couples, Zach Johnson, and Davis Love III as vice captains, there’s plenty of past Ryder Cups, but Johnson will able to bring knowledge on the course for this young team.
We’re inside a week from starting this bad boy, and the anticipation is high, at least on my end. I assume the crowd will be lacking a bit of a European presence, as there was for the Solheim Cup, but the energy will surly be in 6th gear. It will be fun, it will be dramatic, and it will be intense, because, it’s the Ryder Cup.