Feb 13, 2023
RYDER CUP CAPTAINS JOHNSON AND DONALD COMMIT TO THE HONDA CLASSIC
At the end of September, Zach Johnson and Luke Donald will be matching wits as the captains of the United States and European Ryder Cup teams.
The build-up is already so intense that it is easy to forget that both players are still active golfers.
Their continued pursuit of success on the golf course will bring them to the 2023 Honda Classic February 20-26 at PGA National Resort. Both players have committed to take on defending champion Sepp Straka and a world-class field.
“I’m a golfer first, so I want to play good golf,” Johnson said. “I want to win golf tournaments, and I would love to make my team and not play. So that is a priority. In order to do that though, a lot of work has to be done. A lot of, you know, work in the dirt, to be cliche, has to be done.
“I’m looking forward to that. I think the beauty of where I am right now is that my body is still good and I can still go out and play a full schedule and still maintain other responsibilities. So that’s a pretty unique posture. Yeah, I’m excited for this year. I’ve done a lot of work and more to come.”
Donald is also determined to defy the narrative that Ryder Cup captains are so distracted that their own games suffer.
“I actually came into this year with higher expectations than I had in a while just for my own game,” Donald said. “You know when you’re swinging reasonably well. I feel like I’ve done some good work on my long game and I’ve done some good work with my short game. And to be honest, I feel like my game is in a pretty good spot.”
Johnson is primarily working on his tee game.
“It’s not rocket science at this point, but in order for me to play good golf, I’ve got to drive it really, really good,” Johnson said. “I’ve got to hit my wedges really, really good. Obviously hit putts. So those are my three areas of focus. My practice is set up accordingly.
“You know, from there, obviously playing golf tournaments, and I would say courses that probably lend itself to my style of game is a portion of that. I feel like I’ve won on courses I shouldn’t win on and feel like I played poorly year after year on courses I could flourish on. If you play good, you play good.”
Johnson was asked what would happen if he really did qualify for the Ryder Cup team and had to make a decision on whether to play or coach.
“I would like to be in the position to have that choice,” he said. “That would be a really great problem. I’m fence sitting.”
Captaining a Ryder Cup is all consuming and comes with great anticipation, making it even tougher to keep it from becoming a distraction in the months leading up to the competition.
“It’s no secret that a lot of my best moments on golf courses have been in Ryder Cups,” Donald said. “It’s so special to come together as a team to work together and to play for something greater than yourself. I’ve been very fortunate to have a lot of success in Ryder Cups and couldn’t be more excited to go up against Zach.”
“I’m excited, there is a lot on the horizon,” Johnson said “A lot of certainly heavy responsibilities, but all of which I welcome. I can’t wait for what the fall will hold. Between now and then, there is a lot going on. A lot of decisions, a lot of, you know, just cool things that will start to surface here. For the most part it’s been pretty slow, but it will start to pick up steam shortly, and that’s a good thing.
“The Ryder Cup has some substance. It’s an honor to be a part of it.”