LAS VEGAS – Can you picture Dustin Johnson being a Ryder Cup captain?
“I would love to do it one day,” he said Wednesday after his pro-am in the CJ Cup at The Summit Club. “I think it would be fun. I think I would be a good captain.
“It’s something that I definitely would like to do at some point.”
Not for some time, mind you. Yes, he’s 37, but he’s ranked No. 2 in the world and certainly remains talented enough to add to his trophy case already home to two major championships and 24 PGA Tour titles.
And he just went 5-0-0 in the Ryder Cup as Team USA whipped Europe. It was his fifth Ryder Cup and he’s now 12-9-0 in the event. He’s certainly capable of playing the biennial tussle into the 2030s.
But back to the captaincy. Johnson’s uncluttered mind and carefree demeanor could be a perfect combination to lead the U.S. troops sometime down the line. While some in golf circles have questioned Johnson’s intelligence and point to a few infamous gaffes on the course and his distance appearance during interviews, past U.S. Amateur champion Colt Knost said his friend is like Rain Man with it comes to his golf IQ and his mind should be considered a strength.
Team USA player Dustin Johnson plays his shot from the fourth tee during day one foursome matches for the 43rd Ryder Cup golf competition at Whistling Straits. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports
And his simplistic approach to the game could work nicely in the intense pressure of the Ryder Cup. Johnson said he thinks he’d be a good captain because he would keep things simple.
“Well, I feel like I would let the guys just do their thing,” he said. “I think that’s most important. The players are very good, I don’t need to tell them how to play a golf course or tell them what to do, but just put them in the situation where they can succeed. I feel like I’ve got a good relationship with most of the players out here, and hopefully I’ll be out here long enough to where I’ll know the guys that are going to be on the team.”
“I think when I play my best, I'm the best player in the world."
LAS VEGAS – Rory McIlroy couldn’t hold back the tears.
After defeating Xander Schauffele in the leadoff singles match in the Ryder Cup last month, McIlroy looked at the scoreboard and saw mostly red flags and knew instantly Team USA was routing his European mates.
It was McIlroy’s second loss in the biennial tussle in six editions and he had an emotional explosion during an interview just after beating Schauffele, 3 and 2. It was the lone point McIlroy earned against three losses during the week. And through genuine, raw, tearful moments of agony, he talked about his love for his team and the event and how much the loss hurt him.
It was a telling interview.
“I don’t necessarily get that emotional about golf, so I guess in that way it surprised me. But as you know, it’s a very emotionally charged week,” McIlroy said Wednesday after his pro-am round for the CJ Cup at The Summit. “There were so many different thoughts and emotions. There was relief that I won a point, there was frustration that I didn’t get more out of myself and disappointment I didn’t do more for the team, so there was so many sort of different emotions sort of going through me there and it was all just a little overwhelming in a way.
“But I think it was a good thing for me. I think I realized a couple of things about myself that I hadn’t, or maybe I had known but I was maybe trying to keep down and not let them out. I was surprised at how emotional I got, but then after a little bit of reflection over the last couple of weeks, I realized why I did get that way.”
Part of what he learned about himself during the outburst was to be true to himself. He’s often talked about the game not defining him, not being his top priority, that you win some and you lose some and you move on. The approach tempers the blow of defeat but can be a crutch.
“I think sometimes I give myself too easy of a time and I try to play it off with, you know, golf doesn’t define me and I’ve got balance in my life and I’m happy away from the course,” McIlroy said. “And that’s obviously very true, but if I’m honest, sometimes I sort of maybe use that as a way to lessen the blow if I don’t play good golf.”
McIlroy hasn’t played his best golf of late. In March, he fell out of the top-10 in the world rankings for the first time since 2018 and he’s currently No. 14. He hasn’t added to his four major championships since winning the 2014 PGA. He won the Wells Fargo Championship earlier this year for his 19th PGA Tour title, but he’s earned just three top-10s in 11 starts since.
But the competitive fire still burns inside McIlroy. He wants win No. 20 on the PGA Tour and the lifetime membership that comes with it. He wants major No. 5 and more. He wants to be No. 1 again.
“I think when I play my best, I’m the best player in the world,” he said. “Haven’t played like that for a while, though, but I don’t feel like I need to go that far back to whenever the pandemic hit, whatever it was, 18 months ago, I was the No. 1 player in the world.
“Obviously the last 18 months haven’t been what I’ve wanted them to be, but if you keep it in perspective, I’m not that far away. (Ranked 14th) is not the position I want to be in, but at the same time there’s so many other guys that are trying to do the same thing as I’m doing and I realize the competition gets tougher each and every year and you just have to try to not just keep up with that, but try to become better.”
McIlroy said he sort of turned the corner a little bit at the end of the season and is looking forward to playing competitive golf again after a two-week break.
“It’s a nice, gentle introduction to the season, 70‑whatever players, no cut,” McIlroy said of the CJ Cup. “I feel like you’re going out there to compete and play and try to win, but at the same time you can maybe try a couple things out in your golf game that you’re maybe working on.
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