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U.S. Captain Zach Johnson says team has been fighting illness

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Americans tie deficit record, falling behind 6.5-1.5 on Day 1

    Written by Staff @PGATOUR

    GUIDONIA MONTECELIO, Italy – It was a strange and unexpected first day of the 44th Ryder Cup for the U.S. Team, which did not win a match all day for the first time ever.

    But while the record-tying score of 6.5-1.5 was a head-scratcher, U.S. Captain Zach Johnson may have at least partly explained the Americans’ early troubles.

    They aren’t feeling well.

    “Yes, we have got some congestion and some just signs of things that are unfortunate,” Johnson said after a day that saw his team fall into a 4-0 hole after a disastrous morning Foursomes session. “It's one of those where sometimes the energy is probably a little low, but the ability and desire to go out and play is still there. That's what we are weighing.

    “Every one of them still wants to play every match,” he added, “which is encouraging.”

    Having won by a gaudy 10 points at the 2021 Ryder Cup at Wisconsin’s Whistling Straights, the U.S. came into this week as the favorite until late sentiment toward Europe made it more of a toss-up. But the competition hasn’t played out that way.

    The U.S. never led a match in the morning Foursomes. By the time Justin Thomas birdied the par-4 sixth hole to put him and Jordan Spieth 1-up against Tyrrell Hatton and Viktor Hovland in afternoon Four-ball – the first lead for any U.S. team – we were six-plus hours into the day.

    That was unexpected, but no one knew at the time that the Americans weren’t at full strength. Asked if some kind of bug has been spreading through the team, Johnson said it has.

    “It kind of has, yeah, I'm being honest, yes, it has,” he said. “It has spread through my team.”

    Even so, he added, he feels the Americans have the depth to handle it. And they believe they’re still in this thing, assuming they start to feel better.

    “What's my biggest regret?” Johnson said. “I don't know if I have any regrets. That's sport. This is golf. I mean, this happens. I mean, it's -- these guys are athletes on both sides. Anybody can beat anybody at any given moment.

    “So to say I have a regret, I've trusted in my process. I feel like it still works. It did not go in our favor today. It does not mean it can't tomorrow, and certainly on Sunday.”

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