INZAI CITY, Japan (AP) — Xander Schauffele, Collin Morikawa, and Rickie Fowler are playing for the first time since the Ryder Cup, hoping there’s no individual hangover from the Americans’ lopsided loss to Team Europe in Italy three weeks ago.
The Zozo Championship, the only PGA Tour event in Japan, is friendly ground since all three have family ties to the country. Schauffele particularly has good vibes after winning the gold medal two years ago in the Tokyo Olympics.
Morikawa, not so much, having lost a playoff for the bronze medal to C.T. Pan of Taiwan.
“Nothing’s carried over,” Morikawa said Wednesday on the eve of the 78-player, no-cut tournament at the Accordia Golf Narashino Country Club on the outskirts of Tokyo.
“I mean, look, the Ryder Cup was what it was and — that’s the final result,” Morikawa said. “There’s no lingering anger from losing at a Ryder Cup coming into a week like this. They’re two different things, one’s a team event and this is normal individual golf.”
Morikawa and Schauffele won only a single point each from four matches. Fowler played two matches and lost both. Schauffele described his play in Italy as decent but “not great.”
Schauffele was asked about comments his father Stefan made at the Ryder Cup, essentially suggesting that players should be compensated. The issue has been raised before.
Schauffele didn’t clarify much, but did say he was not enamored of his father speaking out.
“I wasn’t super fired up that he was speaking to media, just because I know how things get twisted,” Schauffele said. “He (Stefan Schauffele) specifically said that if the tournament’s for-profit, then players should get paid. He also said that if it’s charitable — it should be a charitable event most likely and that everything should get donated.”
The Ryder Cup takes in millions, and the players have no stake in the PGA of America.
Fowler said he enjoyed much of the Ryder experience, just not the losing.
“I don’t think you ever really erase it,” he said. “Like I mentioned, they’re still amazing weeks, just not fun being on the wrong side of it.”
“We like to put the losing memories behind us,” he added. “But the memories we have with teammates and captains and the overall week, it’s something it’s still fun to look back on.”
Defending Zozo champion Keegan Bradley jumped started his career with the victory last year in Japan, his first in four years on the PGA Tour. He also won the Travelers Championship four months ago.
“Before the Zozo last year I had made some significant changes in my diet and a certain way I was going about playing golf in my career. It was a risk that I took and it paid off. This tournament coming back here brings back a lot of great memories.”