Zach Johnson hired as U.S. Ryder Cup captain, per report

Two-time major champion Zach Johnson is taking over as Ryder Cup captain, according to The Associated Press, as he will lead an American side trying to end 30 years without a victory on European soil.

Three people with knowledge of the decision confirmed the move to the AP on condition of anonymity because the PGA of America has yet to announce Johnson's selection.

The PGA scheduled a news conference for Monday morning to announce the new captain.

The decision is not a surprise. Johnson has been an assistant captain each of the past two matches, and the U.S. team has moved toward captains with previous involvement.

The 2023 matches are scheduled for the Marco Simone course in Italy. The Americans are coming off the country's biggest Ryder Cup rout, beating Europe 19-9 at Whistling Straits in September with Wisconsin-born Steve Stricker as the captain.

Stricker was part of the Ryder Cup committee -- three PGA Tour players and three PGA of America executives -- that picked the next captain.

Europe has yet to announce its captain, a process that has been slowed as some candidates contemplated joining the Saudi-funded rival league that has yet to get off the ground.

Tony Finau, when asked last week at Riviera if he could envision Johnson as Ryder Cup captain, gave his endorsement and described him as a "great leader."

"He's a cool blend of the older generational player and a person with a new generational outlook on the game," Finau said. "He's lived in both worlds. He's got a great perspective on the game and the team atmosphere."

Johnson played in five Ryder Cups, part of a hardscrabble career that began with him driving the country to play on mini-tours out of college and includes 12 wins on the PGA Tour, including the Masters in 2007 and The Open in 2015 at St. Andrews.

Once self-described as a "normal guy" from Cedar Rapids, Iowa, Johnson joined Tiger Woods, Nick Faldo, Seve Ballesteros, Jack Nicklaus and Sam Snead as the only players to win at Augusta National and St. Andrews.

Xander Schauffele, reflecting on Johnson's time at Whistling Straits, said that while Johnson was lighthearted as a non-playing assistant captain, that wasn't enough to hide his competitiveness.

Schauffele said he thought Johnson's playing career gave insight to him as a potential captain.

"You look at his game and what he's accomplished," Schauffele said. "He's a shorter guy, like the old-school type. If you're in trouble, chip out and hit your wedges close and putt really well. If you think about that type of player, they have to be so precise and disciplined in their approach. That created who he is. He's got a lot of fight.

"I can feel how much everything means to him and how much he wants to win."

The Americans have won the Ryder Cup only four of the past 13 times, and their last victory away from home was in 1993 at The Belfry in England.

The Ryder Cup moved back to odd-numbered years when the 2020 matches were postponed one year because of the coronavirus pandemic. Whistling Straits, near Sheboygan, Wisconsin, had a full house of fans but because of travel restrictions they were overwhelmingly Americans.