The First Look: Ryder Cup
7 Min Read
Written by Adam Stanley @adam_stanley
The Ryder Cup is making its first visit to Italy, with the United States arriving off a record-setting victory two years earlier but trying to end decades of futility in Europe.
The United States’ 10-point margin at Wisconsin’s Whistling Straits in 2021 was the largest at a Ryder Cup since Europe was added to the proceedings in 1979. This year’s team, captained by two-time major winner Zach Johnson, is looking to become the first U.S. squad to win a road Ryder Cup since 1993.
The U.S. Team features four rookies – including first-time major champions Wyndham Clark and Brian Harman – as well as the current No. 1 player in the world Scottie Scheffler. A trio of past FedExCup champions – Patrick Cantlay, Justin Thomas and Jordan Spieth – also highlights the U.S. roster.
Europe has a strong core, including Nos. 2-4 in the world ranking: Rory McIlroy, Jon Rahm and Viktor Hovland. Rahm’s four wins, including the Masters, were the most on the PGA TOUR in 2023, and Hovland arrives as the reigning FedExCup champion after back-to-back wins at the BMW Championship and TOUR Championship.
The European roster also includes Ludvig Aberg, PGA TOUR University’s No. 1 player in 2023, who has quickly impressed since turning pro in June. He won his first pro title earlier this month at the Omega European Masters. In just 10 starts as a pro, he has already risen to No. 80 in the Official World Golf Ranking.
Nine of the 12 Americans made a recent scouting trip to Rome, while all 12 of the Europeans visited the venue before teeing it up at the DP World Tour’s BMW PGA Championship. All 12 made the cut at Wentworth, with seven finishing inside the top 10 on the leaderboard.
With a venue seemingly built for match play – Marco Simone features multiple drivable par 4s and reachable par 5s – and a collection of the game’s top players, it’s set for a drama-filled Ryder Cup in Rome.
|Highest Ranked Players in the Field|
|U.S. Team||European Team|
|1. Scottie Scheffler||2. Rory McIlroy|
|5. Patrick Cantlay||3. Jon Rahm|
|6. Xander Schauffele||4. Viktor Hovland|
|7. Max Homa||8. Matt Fitzpatrick|
|9. Brian Harman||11. Tyrrell Hatton|
|10. Wyndham Clark||14. Tommy Fleetwood|
|12. Jordan Spieth||22. Sepp Straka|
|15. Brooks Koepka||34. Shane Lowry|
|19. Collin Morikawa||36. Justin Rose|
|20. Sam Burns||55. Robert MacIntyre|
|24. Justin Thomas||80. Ludvig Aberg|
|25. Rickie Fowler||81. Nicolai Hojgaard|
*Players listed in order of Official World Golf Ranking as of Sept. 18.
1. BREAKING THE DROUGHT?
The 1993 Ryder Cup at The Belfry in England was the last time the United States won in Europe. That also was the last time the U.S. successfully defended a Ryder Cup. Three of the United States’ defeats in Europe have been by seven or more points, including a nine-point drubbing at The K Club in Ireland in 2006. While there are a few new faces this time around, the American nucleus that defeated Europe 19-9 at Whistling Straits is still intact. And they’d like nothing more than to break the three-decade drought.
2. RORY’S ROLE
Rory McIlroy is the most experienced player among the two dozen that will tee it up at Marco Simone. McIlroy, who will be playing his seventh Ryder Cup, has earned 14 points in his career. He only notched one point, however, in 2021 and sat out a session for the first time in his Ryder Cup career. His lone point came in a Sunday Singles victory.
“I’m proud to be a teammate of all these guys,” McIlroy said in a teary post-round interview. “I’m extremely disappointed that I haven’t contributed more for the team. … It’s been a tough week.”
McIlroy, who won the Genesis Scottish Open in July and comes to the Ryder Cup as the second-ranked golfer in the world, will be keen to see his leadership in the team room translate into points on the board. McIlroy’s seventh-place finish at the BMW PGA was his 11th top-10 in his last 12 starts. He made the cut on the number at Wentworth before firing 67-65 on the weekend.
3. PROVING THEIR PICK
Captain’s picks will always be scrutinized. It’s a Ryder Cup tradition.
Both Zach Johnson and Luke Donald had six selections to round out their squads. Half of Donald’s picks are Ryder Cup rookies, including 23-year-old Ludvig Aberg and 22-year-old Nicolai Hojgaard. Johnson, meanwhile, went with just one rookie, Sam Burns, who represented the U.S. at last year’s Presidents Cup. Justin Thomas likely has the most to prove at this year’s Ryder Cup, as he had an uncharacteristic season and missed the FedExCup Playoffs for the first time in his career. He did show promising signs, however, with his fifth-place finish at the Fortinet Championship, his first start since finishing T12 at the Wyndham Championship to miss the FedExCup Playoffs by a single stroke.
“It’s a very, very, very fine line out here and I just was on the other side of that line (this) year,” Thomas said.
Thomas’ fifth-place finish at the Fortinet was his best PGA TOUR result since finishing fourth at the WM Phoenix Open in February. He said he had “a lot of sleepless nights” leading into Johnson calling him with the good news.
“It’s exciting butterflies,” Thomas said. “It’s something that I can feel like I can use not only for myself, but I want to help the guys.”
4. HOVLAND STAYING HOT?
Viktor Hovland won both the BMW Championship and TOUR Championship en route to winning the FedExCup in August. He then finished fifth at the BMW PGA Championship. The Norwegian star did not miss a cut the last 12 months and is now eager to improve on his Ryder Cup record. He made his debut two years ago at Whistling Straits, going 0-3-2 in a losing European effort. Hovland said after Sunday at Wentworth he’s planning to return to Norway to recharge before Rome.
“Going to be a big week obviously in Rome,” Hovland said, “so got to make sure that I’m up for it.”
Based on Hovland’s recent body of work, he’ll likely be a force to be reckoned with in Rome.
COURSE: Marco Simone Golf & Country Club, par 71, 7,181 yards. The course, located just 10 miles from the city center of Rome, was awarded the Ryder Cup eight years ago. The golf course was originally built in 1989 by Jim Fazio and David Mezzacane. A re-design – led by European Golf Design in cooperation with Tom Fazio II – began in August 2018 and was completed in March 2021. The objective was to create a golf course specifically with match play in mind.
After the recent scouting trip to Rome, American vice-captain Jim Furyk said the rough is so thick and penal that at one point six people were searching for a tee ball that landed in the rough during a practice round and no one could find it.
The golf course has hosted the Italian Open four times including 2021-23. The most recent winner was Adrian Meronk, who won by one at 13 under. European Ryder Cup team members Nicolai Hojgaard (2021) and Robert MacIntyre (2022) have also won the DP World Tour event at Marco Simone.
2025: Bethpage – Black Course (New York)
2027: The Golf Course at Adare Manor (Ireland)
2029: Hazeltine National Golf Club (Minnesota)
2033: The Olympic Golf Club – Lake Course (California)
LAST TIME: The United States got off to an impressive start, winning three matches in Friday’s opening session and leading 6-2 after the first day at Whistling Straits. It was the largest first-day lead for either the United States or Europe since the 2004 Ryder Cup. On the second day, the U.S. squad kept the pedal down, winning the first three matches before notching points in the final two matches of the afternoon. The United States’ six-point cushion was the largest lead in a Ryder Cup through two days since 1975. In Sunday Singles, Rory McIlroy won the opening match over Xander Schauffele, but the American side would go on to win six of the next eight matches to win the Cup. The final score was 19-9. Three golfers on the American side did not record a loss including rookie Collin Morikawa, who went 3-0-1 in four matches. Jon Rahm was the highest point-earner on the European side, notching 3.5 points in a losing effort.
HOW TO WATCH (all times ET)
Television: Friday, 1:30 a.m.-noon (USA Network); Saturday, 1:30-3 a.m. (USA Network), 3 a.m.-noon (NBC); Sunday, 5:30 a.m.-1 p.m. (NBC).
Radio: Friday-Saturday, 1 a.m.-noon; Sunday, 5 a.m.-1 p.m.
Streaming: Featured matches (Various): on Peacock, RyderCup.com and the Ryder Cup app.
NOTE:The PGA of America, which owns and operates the Ryder Cup, controls all digital streaming and broadcast rights to this event. For more information on how to watch this week, please visit The Ryder Cup website. PGA TOUR LIVE coverage will resume on Thursday, Oct. 5, at the Sanderson Farms Championship.
Schedule of events (all times ET)
|10 a.m.: Opening Ceremony||1:35 a.m: Morning Foursomes Match 1||1:35 a.m.: Morning Foursomes Match 1||5:35 a.m.: Singles Match No. 1|
-12 matches off every 12 minutes
|1:50 a.m.: Morning Foursomes Match 2||1:50 a.m.: Morning Foursomes Match 2||11 a.m.: Trophy presentation|
|2:05 a.m.: Morning Foursomes Match 3||2:05 a.m.: Morning Foursomes Match 3|
|2:20 a.m.: Morning Foursomes Match 4||2:20 a.m.: Morning Foursomes Match 4|
|6:25 a.m.: Afternoon Four-ball Match 1||6:25 a.m.: Afternoon Four-ball Match 1|
|6:40 a.m.: Afternoon Four-ball Match 2||6:40 a.m.: Afternoon Four-ball Match 2|
|6:55 a.m.: Afternoon Four-ball Match 3||6:55 a.m.: Afternoon Four-ball Match 3|
|7:10 a.m.: Afternoon Four-ball Match 4||7:10 a.m.: Afternoon Four-ball Match 4|