Tiger Woods won the Tour Championship and then was on a plane that night headed to France to play in the Ryder Cup. Ditto for Jim Furyk in 2010, when he won the FedEx Cup in Atlanta and headed straight to Celtic Manor.
This year is different, with a change to the PGA Tour schedule to finish before Labor Day. For most of the Americans, they finished at East Lake on Aug. 27, and then it’s 33 days before most of them hit a shot that counts at Marco Simone outside Rome.
U.S. captain Zach Johnson is not concerned about competitive rust.
“I’m confident that the guys know what they’re doing,” Johnson said in Italy when nine of the 12 Americans had practice sessions at Marco Simone. “Number two, there is a tournament and some of the guys are playing in Napa, in California. So you can prepare and play if you want. That’s an option.”
Max Homa is the two-time defending champion at the Fortinet Championship. Justin Thomas also is playing, mainly because he missed the FedEx Cup playoffs and last competed on Aug. 6.
“But you know, it’s a long, grueling season, and I think there’s something to be said about rest,” Johnson said. “There’s also something to be said about being home and being with your family and still preparing that way, too. So that’s not really a concern of mine.”
The European tour, meanwhile, is just now building toward the conclusion of its season. It had the Irish Open last week, the flagship BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth this week, the French Open next week and then the Ryder Cup.
All 12 Europeans were at Marco Simone on Monday, and all 12 are playing at Wentworth.
The American team will have four days of practice going into the Sept. 29 opening session of matches. Golf is fickle enough that there are endless tales of great form showing up and leaving without notice.
But it is different.
There were two weeks between the Tour Championship and the Ryder Cup in 2021 (Wisconsin) and 2014 (Scotland). The Ryder Cup immediately followed the Tour Championship in 2010 (Wales), 2012 (Chicago) and 2018 (Paris).
Then there was 2008, when there was a week off between the BMW Championship and the Ryder Cup, and the Tour Championship was right after the Ryder Cup.
Johnson and assistant captain Stewart Cink are playing in Napa. Asked about Thomas and Homa, they said not to read too much into the results, good or bad.
“The bottom line is for the most part, the majority of the team played so much golf in July and August that they need a break,” Johnson said Tuesday. “Your body needs a break. It’s unique that we’ve had a month off from the Tour Championship to the actual Cup.
“Rest, I think, is probably better than actually competing off the Tour Championship.”