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Tiger Woods not in Rome but ‘in our corner’

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Zach Johnson announced late last month that Woods would not travel with the team to Italy and now that tournament week is here, “it’s probably best that we navigate this ourselves,” the U.S. team captain said Monday.

Johnson made the comments from Marco Simone Golf and Country Club ahead of the Ryder Cup, which begins Friday.

“As far as conferring with him, communicating with him, we have up to this point, and he understands that now that our feet are on the ground, it’s probably best that we navigate this ourselves,” Johnson told reporters.

“But he’s always in our corner, and at this point it’s more encouragement on his side, whether he’s texting the guys or texting the vice captains and captains, he’s there to encourage because he’s very invested in what we do year-in and year-out with Team USA, and that has never ceased, and I’m grateful for that,” Johnson added.

Johnson said earlier this month that Woods’ “physical problems won’t allow him to physically be in Italy.” Woods apparently is still rehabbing from yet another ankle surgery in April to “address post-traumatic arthritis” in his right leg.

And while Johnson has been able to lean into Tiger’s guidance in the ramp up, now that the Americans have boots on the ground, Woods’ influence is mitigated.

“When it comes to the week of the tournament, if you’re not inside the team room, inside the ropes, shoulder-to-shoulder with these guys, it’s not fair to ask him questions,” Johnson said. “He can give us insights, don’t get me wrong. At the same time, I don’t know if that’s proper and I think he would understand completely.”

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