2023 Ryder Cup: What Went Wrong for Zach Johnson and Team USA

Max Homa, 2023 Ryder Cup, Rome,(Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
Max Homa, 2023 Ryder Cup, Rome,(Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images) /

The 2023 Ryder Cup has come to a close. Chants from the crowd ensued and confetti fell on the Europeans as they lifted the cup in front of their home fans Sunday in Rome.

Once again it was obvious how much the Ryder Cup means to the players. Tears were shed from each side, both of joy and disappointment. It has now been 3 decades since the Americans have won a Ryder Cup on European soil.

The final score (16.5-11.5) was not indicative of European dominance. It seemed as if Europe was in control from the very first tee shot. The American team with many of the same faces from a dominant win 2 years ago looked completely outmatched. Many people are wondering what went wrong with the US?

The 44th Ryder Cup: What went wrong for the United States?


There was a lot of talk in the lead-up to the tournament about the amount of golf the Europeans had played.

After the PGA Tour championship in August, the Americans took a 5-week hiatus from competitive play. On the other hand, the Europeans all continued to play on the DP World up until a couple weeks ago. The decision to not rest was criticized by American, Wyndham Clark, but when tournament time came, the Americans came out flat.

The first day was disastrous for the Americans. Going 0-4 in foursomes to start the day. Then, three choked matches on the 18th hole during the afternoon four-ball to finish Day 1 down (6.5-1.5). This set the tone for the weekend, giving the American team a deficit that was too much to conquer.

Team Choices

Captain Zach Johnson made some questionable decisions all week. Hindsight is 20/20, but the two-time major champion’s pairing choices were questionable and none of his captains picks played particularly well. Europe captain, Luke Donald, was reportedly hyping his team up in the locker room, while Johnson made up excuses after Day 1.

At the end of the day, it was not all on Johnson. When push came to shove, the players had to play, and the Americans all had the talent to win.

They may have been ill-prepared. None of the Americans played in the Italian Open in 2022 which was held at Marco Simone, while many of the Euros did and knew the course well.

Jordan Spieth was also one of the few missing during the team trip to the course site in early September, and consequently went (0-2-2) in his 4 matches.

Next Step

There will be conversations until 2025 about what went wrong and how they can improve. One key to remember is that it is hard to win on foreign soil. The fans are relentless and the course is designed by the opponent.

dark. Next. More Ryder Cup Coverage

American players and fans went into Rome confident, and now wonder where things stand for the 2025 Ryder Cup at Bethpage.

Maybe Captain Tiger Woods will come to save the day…