ROME — Ben Crenshaw is here in Italy this week, as are many of the past U.S. Ryder Cup captains, to support this year’s team.
Whether current U.S. captain Zach Johnson planned to have Crenshaw the 1999 captain, address his players Saturday night was unknown.
But the American side faces an even larger deficit to the one Crenshaw’s ’99 team faced in Brookline, Mass., where it overcame a 10-6 deficit on Sunday to win after Crenshaw passionately told reporters this night before, “I have a feeling.’’
When asked Saturday night if he had a feeling about is team coming back from a 10.5 to 5.5 deficit, Johnson said, “We’ve got 12 guys. We’ve got 12 points. I believe every guy on my team can win a point. I’ll just say that.’’
The U.S. players were buoyed by the afternoon session Saturday in which they won three of the four four-ball matches.
“Our energy was up,’’ Collin Morikawa said. “We know where we stand, and we know what we’ve done so far and in the past.’’
Added Sam Burns: “This team, these guys are ready. We’re all positive. We know what we’re capable of. We know it’s going to be tough. We know it’s going to be a challenge. But we’re excited for it.’’
European captain Luke Donald said he feels his team is in “a great position, five points ahead going into the singles at home.’’
“I like where we are,’’ Donald said. “I like the feelings in the locker room. Certainly, they grabbed some momentum at the end when Patrick [Cantlay] made some great putts at the end [of the final match]. I’m not going to say they didn’t. But again, we are five points up.’’
There was a report in the Daily Mail that the reason Cantlay not wearing a ball cap in the Ryder Cup is a show of protest over players not being paid to play in the event.
The report from Sky Sports also stated that Cantlay has been “sitting in a separate area of the visitor’s locker room.’’
A U.S. Ryder Cup spokesperson told The Post he was unaware of any sort of Cantlay protest, and he pointed out that Cantlay also did not wear a cap at the 2021 Ryder Cup at Whistling Straits.
The spokesperson also denied that Cantlay is sitting in any sort of separate area in the team room.
Later, Johnson lambasted the report, saying, “That is extremely poor journalism. There is not a rift in this team room. This is one of the most united teams I have ever been associated with. And when it comes to the dollar sign … there’s guys that would pay to play in this. So, I think that is extremely inaccurate and arguably irresponsible.’’
Cantlay, when asked if he believes players should be paid to play in the Ryder Cup, said, “It’s not about that. It’s just about Team USA and representing our country.’’
Pressed further, he said, “That’s all I’ve got to say about that.’’
Asked about not wearing a hat, Cantlay said, “The hat doesn’t fit. It didn’t fit at Whistling Straits, and didn’t fit this week. I was going to go no hat all week regardless, so I figured would I keep it consistent.’’
Asked about the report that said he was going without a cap as a protest for not being paid, he said, “That’s the furthest thing from the truth.’’
There was a moment on the 16th tee when Johnson asked Jordan Spieth to hit a 3-wood instead of a driver on the short par-4 with water to the right side of the green.
Spieth went back to 3-wood and hit his tee shot into the pond and lost the hole and the match.
“That was a situation where we thought it was a pretty pivotal hole, so I was trying to make my way there as much as I could given the status of matches, kind of like a par 3,’’ Johnson said. “As the individual on the team that can relay advice, I was there giving them data. Just pure data. That was it. Like, ‘This is what we’ve seen, this is where it is, this is what he did in front of you, this is what he did in front of you,’ etc., etc.
“He did change clubs. I’m not telling those boys what to hit, I can assure you of that. These guys are on the United States Ryder Cup Team. I don’t need to tell them what to do.”
Just two players among the 24 on the teams will play all five matches _ Rory McIlroy and Viktor Hovland for Europe. McIlroy is 3-1 and Hovland is 2-1-1. … Rickie Fowler will go into Sunday singles having played in only one match this week.
He sat for both sessions on Saturday, and according to Johnson, Fowler’s benching had nothing to do with being ill or injured, it was a “captain’s decision.’’
Fowler was one of Johnson’s six captain’s picks and hasn’t proven to be a very good one, going 0-1.