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Three of Team USA’s defeated stars have detailed why Zach Johnson was deemed a failure in Rome this year.
Luke Donald’s European side ran away with the contest at Marco Simone in October, despite heading into the contest as underdogs.
Pundits were quick to blast Johnson’s captaincy, but Justin Thomas, Rickie Fowler and Xander Schauffele have dished out an honest assessment on the defeat.
Speaking to the Palm Beach Post, the Americans agreed that their skipper was not to blame.
Instead, the trio lamented their own play, as Team Europe won 16.5-11.5, whilst arguing that Johnson was the easy target for stick.
At the opening of Panther National – a course co-designed by Thomas – he said: “The No. 1 regret he should have is we should have played better.
“We all told him that, ‘Zach, it’s easy to look back after a week where they just played monumentally better, and we did not play well. It’s easy to say you should have changed things.’
“We just should have played better for him.”
After the defeat, Johnson expressed that he should have put the United States in ‘the best position for success’, but Fowler made clear he had no complaints over how he handled the team.
Fowler said: “All it comes down to is we didn’t play as well as the Euros did.
“Zach is loved by everyone. He was great. I wish I would have been healthier that week and wish I would have been playing better and feeling better about my game.”
And seven-time PGA Tour winner Xander Schauffele agreed, stating their poor record in matches that week was to blame.
The 30-year-old said: “We all just wish we would have done better so Zach wouldn’t have to think this way.
“When we lose, the captain gets all the heat. When we win, the players get all the credit.
“We wouldn’t be having this conversation if I played better or any of the guys you talked to today played better.”
Schauffele won his singles match on Sunday – as did Thomas – to finish the week with one win and three losses.
Thomas was one of the few positives for Team USA in a dismal defeat, but fell to a record of 1-2-1, while Fowler was 0-2.
For the first time since Rome, Johnson broke his silence at the RSM Classic last week. He said: “I’ve got a lot of 20/20 hindsight things that I certainly think about. Arguably, some regrets.”
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