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Billy Horschel believes the US team’s lack of adequate preparation damaged their chances of winning the Ryder Cup.

Nine American players took five weeks off after the FedEx Cup to rest and recover before their convincing 16.5-11.5 defeat to the dominant Europeans in Rome.

Captain Zach Johnson defended his side’s inactivity prior to pitching at Marco Simone, despite a painfully slow start on Friday that ultimately took the match away from them.

But Horschel, who is desperate to make his own Ryder Cup debut at Bethpage Black in 2025, had his doubts before Europe’s morning foursomes whitewash and believes that lack of match sharpness proved costly.

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“My one worry going into this Ryder Cup – it had nothing to do with the picks – I just thought when you take five weeks off and you go and play competition you come back a little rusty,” Horschel told

“Some of them have taken a couple weeks off before a major and they’re just not as sharp. They like playing a week before a major to get into the rhythm of tournament golf and competing. You see what you’ve been working on at home – has it translated into competition? That was the worry I had and it showed a little bit.

“I think the team got better as the competition went along because they played more heat of the moment, stressful, nervous shots. I thought some of those guys would have come over, but at the same time they played a high level of golf all year so I don’t fault them for taking time off to recover.

“But I just thought the best opportunity for the team to play well and win, all of them should have played at least one time before going. That’s just my opinion and I’m not criticising anyone for the decision that they made.”

Johnson has faced considerable backlash for presiding over a seventh straight American defeat on European soil with a team boasting six of the world’s top ten and three current major champions. One report claimed Patrick Cantlay was the centre of a fracture in the US locker room, while there was also consternation over Johnson’s choices of pairings.

The post-mortem is well and truly underway, but Horschel thinks the inquest into the latest away defeat should be focused on the American team’s build-up to the event as they look to find ways to cure their travel sickness at Adare Manor in 2027.

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“It’s not like they want it less than the Europeans,” the seven-time PGA Tour winner stressed. “I just think our guys weren’t prepared the way they would be if this was a major. Would any of those guys have taken five weeks off leading up to a major? No. That’s a guaranteed fact.

“It seems like in America, whenever we lose, everyone’s knit-picking at the smallest things in the world but when it came down to this Ryder Cup the European team were in better playing form than our boys were. It was as simple as that.

“It wasn’t that the guys weren’t together and the bickering and all that. That’s a mute point. When you look at the missing piece, being competition sharp, the Europeans were in a better position than our boys were.

“As a captain, assistant captain or stats guy on that team I would have been like, ‘Here’s what the data says. I know you’ve played a lot, but if you guys can sacrifice playing one more week somewhere, just so you don’t come off a five-week break of not playing competition, I think it would benefit us and then they could just have the rest of the year off.’”

“Some of them could say ‘there was nothing to play in.’ That’s not true. They could have easily come over and played BMW Wentworth. They were all eligible for it and they were all in Italy in the days leading up to the Wentworth event. But that’s a question they’d have to answer.”

Cantlay, the pantomime villain in Rome, repeatedly denied the report that suggested his choice not to wear a hat during the week was in protest of not being paid to play in the competition.

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But that storm sparked a wider debate surrounding player payment in future Ryder Cups. As it stands, players in the US team are awarded with $200,000 each to distribute to charities of their choice.

Xander Schauffele’s father Stefan raised eyebrows when he claimed discussions need to be made between the PGA and America and the US players about the distribution of income.

And Horschel has made his own thoughts on being paid to represent his nation very clear.

“I’ve never thought about a dollar in team competitions,” he said. “It’s for the country. Playing with 11 other guys for the captain. That’s what it’s always been about. It’s always what my focus has been. The money aspect, we do very well so what more money do we need?

“You look at it from the European side – I’ve never heard a European Tour player saying we should be making money off of this and saying we’re not getting our fair share. It’s frustrating that that has come up again, whether it’s true or not I don’t know.

“It’s one competition that we play all year and we play 20 plus events so I think the money aspect should be put to the side. I’ve not heard anybody complain about the Olympics and not being paid for that. Personally, I would never need to be paid to be in a competition like that.”

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Ben Parsons joined bunkered as a Content Producer in 2023 and is the man to come to for all of the latest news, across both the professional and amateur games. Formerly of The Mirror and Press Association, he is a member at Halifax Golf Club and is a long-suffering fan of both Manchester United and the Wales rugby team.

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