Johnson defends Spieth/Thomas omission and didn’t hear Koepka boos

Ronan MacNamara

Zach Johnson (Photo by Kate McShane/Getty Images)

Ronan MacNamara

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Rónán MacNamara in Rome

Zach Johnson has defended his decision to sit out star pairing Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas from the opening foursomes session of the Ryder Cup in Marco Simone.

Both players boast formidable Ryder Cup records with Thomas winning 6.5 points from nine sessions while his close friend Spieth has won eight matches in his previous four appearances.

The pair have also been electrifying together going a combined 8-2-0 in both the Ryder Cup and Presidents Cup including going 4-0-0 in the latter last year, but Johnson has gone a different direction with his selections.

“Well, the gist of it is we’ve got 12 guys. Unfortunately, I can’t play all 12 each session. So at some point, somebody’s got to sit. It’s a golf course that demands a lot out of you physically,” said the US captain.

“I mean, I think it’s an ideal situation where you don’t necessarily want to play everybody all five sessions. I’m not saying that’s what we’re going to do, but you’re taking everything into account. Not only that, but the eight guys I have down on paper are the ones that we feel best put us in the position to get off to a great start obviously.

“Then trying to fill in the holes for the four sessions. I have the utmost confidence in these eight and the utmost confidence in Jordan and Justin. I know we’re talking about a great tandem, but it’s a situation where it’s not about their form. They’re playing great. So it’s really just a matter of trying to dissect all five sessions.”

During the opening ceremony prior to the pairings announcement, LIV golfer Brooks Koepka appeared to be booed by sections of the crowd but Johnson brushed any concerns aside.

“I didn’t hear anything. It’s hard to hear from the stage. You could hear, but as far as something specific like that, I did not hear anything. I know Brooks well enough to know that he’s very secure in himself, and I know that his 11 teammates are very secure in him.

“So the way we approach it; that’s all that’s important. I didn’t hear anything other than applause for the guys I mentioned.”

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