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Zach Johnson, Stewart Cink playing dual roles at Fortinet Championship

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Zach Johnson, Stewart Cink playing dual roles at Fortinet Championship

The duo will tee it up in first event of FedExCup Fall while minding Ryder Cup duties

    Written by Cameron Morfit @CMorfitPGATOUR

    Zach Johnson and Stewart Cink were dazed and even a little daffy.

    They were doing a press conference at the Fortinet Championship at Silverado Resort in Napa, California, 6,245 miles from Rome. That’s where U.S. Ryder Cup Captain Johnson and Cink, one of his vice-captains, were last weekend for an advance scouting trip, along with nine of the 12 players on the team.

    “Stewart and I were just talking about it before we sat down,” Johnson said. “We're on a nine-hour time change right now, so everything's kind of a little trying. Now, that being said, we've got some time between now and Thursday.

    “I'm sure we'll adapt and be OK,” he added.

    Multi-tasking is the name of the game these days for the two longtime friends, who at Silverado will keep their minds on their own careers – Cink will also play the PGA TOUR Champions’ PURE Insurance Championship next week – while tending to their Ryder Cup duties. For now, that means getting on West Coast time.

    When asked about Marco Simone Golf & Country Club, both called it a tiring (hilly) walk.

    “It’s probably the most demanding physically of any Cup course I've ever seen that I've been a part of,” Cink said.

    “No question,” Johnson added. “In my time, for sure.”

    It’s so hilly, they added, that it might take some of the sting out of sitting out a session.

    At Silverado, they’ll play their own games – Cink won the 2020 Fortinet – but if and when time allows, they’ll also check on the progress of others. That includes time with Justin Thomas, who hasn’t competed on the PGA TOUR since last month’s Wyndham Championship, and Max Homa, who successfully defended his Fortinet title last year thanks to a wild sequence on the last hole, where Homa pitched in from 33 feet while Danny Willett three-putted from 3 1/2 feet.

    Thomas and Homa will be among the 12 Americans who will venture to Rome at the end of this month as the U.S. tries to win a Ryder Cup on the road for the first time in 30 years.

    The Fortinet, the first event of the FedExCup Fall, could help with invaluable momentum.

    “I hope they both win,” said Cink, whose wife, Lisa, will caddie for him this week. “I don’t think that's possible, but I hope they both win.”

    “And we tie for third,” Johnson added.

    Stewart Cink on what it's like to be a Ryder Cup captain's pick

    The exchanges got goofier from there.

    Asked about his dual roles, Cink, who calls Napa one of his favorite spots on TOUR, said he’s devised a way to keep them straight. Hint: It involves wine.

    “I will be sampling some of the Napa varieties so I can compare it to some of the Italian varieties when we get over there,” he said. “That's part of my strategy this week to keep my mind compartmentalized.”

    He was just getting warmed up.

    “I still got to figure out where the holes are,” he said of the rerouted Silverado North. “I know all 18 holes here, but now I don't know which order they're going in. Where do I walk after No. 7? I don't know. I have to probably look at the ropes and the signs to figure all that out. I haven't played the course yet since I've been here.”

    Johnson found himself answering questions about the FIBA World Cup of basketball, where the U.S. lost to Canada over the weekend and failed to medal. The subtext of the question was obvious: Just how much credit or blame should be directed at the coach of a winning or losing team?

    Zach Johnson on the pressure he faces as Ryder Cup captain

    “I do know that if we win this, it will be those 12 guys,” Johnson said. “I mean that sounds really obvious, but it will be. It will be them playing golf and winning the Ryder Cup for Team USA.

    “If we lose this,” he added, “I think there's probably some merit some of that can go on me. And I fully accept that, that's what I signed up for. I hope that's not the case obviously, but I am at peace with whatever comes my way.”

    Cameron Morfit is a Staff Writer for the PGA TOUR. He has covered rodeo, arm-wrestling, and snowmobile hill climb in addition to a lot of golf. Follow Cameron Morfit on Twitter.

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