PGA Championship - Preview Day 2
Credit: Getty Images

There are 499 days until the opening tee shots are hit at the 2023 Ryder Cup in Rome, Italy. Henrik Stenson, who was named the European Ryder Cup Captain in March, has been counting down the days.

“It's about 500 days away, and we'd better make use of those 500 days,” Stenson said Wednesday from the PGA Championship. “We're going to try and do everything we can to be well prepared and ready.”

Stenson’s counterpart, Zach Johnson, has also been preparing for the biennial team event.

“Once October hits, we'll hit the accelerator a little bit, and I welcome that,” Johnson said about his preparations beginning in earnest. “I can't wait.”

Johnson doesn't know yet who he will name as his vice captains in Italy, but he does know the qualities he’s looking for in those he will add to his leadership team. Johnson brings a wealth of experience in serving in the role himself as a vice captain to Jim Furyk in Paris and to Steve Stricker at Whistling Straits. He twice also served as an assistant captain at the Presidents Cup to Tiger Woods and Love III.

“Experience both on the golf course and as a leader will be paramount,” Johnson said in outlining his criteria. “I want synergy within the leadership. I want those guys to want to be around each other. I want obviously communication to be a big part of that and ease of that, but I also want them to go into the room and have discussions where there's no negativity.”

Stenson remains more than a year and a half away from leading his squad in Italy, but he’s wasted no time considering changes after Team Europe’s overwhelming defeat at Whistling Straits, where they lost 19-9 to the Americans.

Due to the pandemic, the Europeans faced a number of challenges with qualifying, which was paused for a period of time and then extended until less than a month prior to the match. A number of concerns about point distribution, as well as the number of captain’s picks, are among the topics Stenson says are being evaluated ahead of the Ryder Cup in 2023.

“I think we learned from that, and we're going to do it slightly different this time around,” Stenson said about the pending revisions. “I can't really spill the beans on that today, but there will be some changes. That's what we're working towards.”

Since being named Captain two months ago, Stenson has already announced Thomas Bjorn, the victorious European Captain in 2018, as an assistant captain.

In recent years the trend has grown, especially on the American side, toward younger captains who are contemporaries of the players they’re leading and far less removed from the game. Johnson, 46, will be the youngest ever to lead the US. Team. With younger captains comes the possibility of competing on their own team. It’s something Woods decided to do when he led the Presidents Cup in 2019 and selected himself for his team. This week, both Johnson and Stenson are in the field at the PGA Championship and they each play full schedules on the PGA and DP World Tours, respectively.

“That would be a great story,” Johnson said at the prospect of making his own Ryder Cup team. “If that is a part of the scenario, we'll hit it head on. I understand what I'm up against, and that's the beauty of this game right now is that it's really, really good. If that's a difficulty, it's a great difficulty.”

There are just under 500 days until the Ryder Cup gets underway in Italy and there’s still plenty of time for both captains to continue their preparations for Marco Simone.

“I don't have any idea what's going to happen 500 days from now. What I do know is that, again, I'm going to rely on the individuals around me,” said Johnson in looking ahead to the Ryder Cup. “What Steve established back in Whistling Straits was great. What Davis has done in the past was great. But we're all about 2023 in Europe, and it'll be its own animal, and we're going to tame it.”

Latest News