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Struggling US Ryder Cup team hit by illness - Johnson

ROME - U.S. captain Zach Johnson did not want to make any excuses for his team's dreadful start to the Ryder Cup on Friday but did reveal an illness has spread through his team and that he is glad they have a doctor on hand.

Johnson, whose 12-man team failed to win a single match on the opening day of the biennial competition against Europe, was vague on the nature of the illness but did admit that it had an impact on their sluggish start and his decision-making.

"There's been some unforeseen things that we've had to navigate around, which is really unfortunate, in the sense of health," said Johnson. "It's not an excuse, because we have depth, but I'll just say I'm grateful we have a team doctor."

Johnson, who has made five Ryder Cup appearances as a player and served as vice-captain three times, did not reveal too much about the illness but said it passed around between the caddies and players.

"We have got some congestion and some just signs of things that are unfortunate. 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," said Johnson.

"That's what we are weighing. Every one of them still wants to play every match, which is encouraging."

The U.S. won the 2021 Ryder Cup at home in dominant fashion but now have a mountain to climb if they hope to end a 30-year drought on European soil this weekend.

Europe enjoyed a 4-0 sweep of the morning foursomes session and then struck late in a trio of the four afternoon fourballs matches to end the day with a 6-1/2-1-1/2 lead.

Johnson, who raised some eyebrows for not playing Jordan Spieth, Justin Thomas and Brooks Koepka in the morning session and also for sending out two Ryder Cup rookie pairings, said the illness affected some of his lineup decisions.

"We have contingencies and things of that nature based on a lot of things," added Johnson.

"You know, I would say that we'd love to have everything drawn out way, way ahead of time but there's certain things you cannot control and we are trying to control the controllables in our team room, and I'll leave it at that." REUTERS