As Europe look set to at worst consolidate the strong lead they’d built on day one, reports are emerging that Zach Johnson’s US team are battling more than just their European opponents.
According to Sky Sports’ Jamie Weir, the split has been instigated by Patrick Cantlay with money, or the lack thereof, being the defining factor. “We understand the US team room is fractured,” Weir wrote, “a split led predominantly by Patrick Cantlay.
“Cantlay believes players should be paid to participate in the Ryder Cup, and is demonstrating his frustration at not being paid by refusing to wear a team cap.
“He wore a cap at last year’s Presidents Cup, for which players ARE paid.”
This wouldn’t be the first time that an American side had questioned the finances of the biennial event, with David Duval, Tiger Woods and Mark O’Meara all questioning why the participating players saw none of the reported $63 million profit from the 1999 Ryder Cup at Brookline.
In subsequent events, a $200,000 donation has been made in each player’s name, with $100,000 going to charities chosen by the PGA of America and the other $100,000 going to a charity, or charities, of the player’s choosing.
Xander Schauffele, a good friend and regular partner of Cantlay, has apparently taken his friend’s side. Along with Jordan Spieth, whose wife was expecting a baby, Schauffele and Cantlay opted not to travel to Rome with the rest of the US team on a scouting trip in early September, with a clash with Cantlay’s bachelor party the stated reason, though the recent reports of unrest throw into question the genuineness of the reason for their absence.
“Along with his close friend Xander Schauffele, Cantlay is sitting in a separate area of the team dressing room,” Weir says.
“Before the Ryder Cup, it was widely reported that the same pair were the ones refusing to allow Netflix cameras access to the team room.”
While these reports are yet to be officially confirmed by any members of the US team or backroom staff, our own man on the ground Ronan MacNamara noted that both Cantlay and Schauffele played nine holes of practice alone on Tuesday. While this would be nothing unusual on a normal tournament week, on a week where it’s all about the team, this is extremely usual indeed.
Additionally, Brooks Koepka was reportedly fuming to have been left sitting out the opening foursomes session that saw Europe complete a first ever clean sweep of the opening four matches.
Zach Johnson, whilst not alluding to any malcontent in the dressing room, did suggest that there were illness concerns within the camp. “You know, I would say that we’d love to have everything drawn out way, way ahead of time,” he said when asked about having to draw up contingency plans, “but there’s certain things you cannot control, and we are trying to control the controlables in our team room, and I’ll leave it at that.”
When pressed and asked if he wanted to expand on that, he responded: “No, not particularly — the bottom line is there’s been some unforeseen things that we’ve had to navigate around, which is really unfortunate, in the sense of health. It’s not an excuse, because we have depth, but I’ll just say, I’m grateful we have a team doctor.”