RYDER CUP 2023 LIVE BLOG: Europe’s fast start | LaCava apologises | Cantlay ‘capgate’ | Hovberg’s record | Seve tribute

The Today’s Golfer team is in Rome for the 2023 Ryder Cup at Marco Simone Golf and Country Club and will be keeping you up to speed with all of the news and gossip you might have missed each day.

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Our live blog will be constantly updating to bring you all the latest news, quotes, and quirky moments from the site of golf’s biggest event as Luke Donald’s European team seek to claw the trophy back out of the hands of Zach Johnson’s US team.

We arrived in Rome on Monday and have spent the week covering the stories you might have missed and bringing you all of the live Ryder Cup scoring hole-by-hole.

Things you missed at the Ryder Cup on Sunday

Cantlay getting married tomorrow

Patrick Cantlay’s focus will quickly turn from the Ryder Cup to his impending nuptials with the American due to marry in Rome tomorrow.

More hat-related rumors spread about the Team USA star on Sunday with Xander Schauffele’s father telling German radio that his son’s close friend had been going capless to avoid a tan line for his wedding to Nikki Guidish.

The pair got engaged last September.

A 15-point swing in two years

Two years ago USA romped to a record 19-9 victory and many US pundits were predicting a period of domination. Fast forward to Marco Simone and Europe have a 16.5-11.5 win, a seven-and-a-half-point swing on both sides.

What changed? Europe were at home with huge support, which clearly helps based on recent records, but they introduced younger and, potentially hungrier players to the team, had a captain and team who were seemingly better prepared, and they are clearly building for the future. Which brings us neatly on to…

Europe’s players want Donald to stay

“Two more years, two more years,” was the chant from Europe’s players as they prepared to lift the Ryder Cup trophy.

With no obvious successor and universal praise for his leadership, Donald could lead Europe’s attempt to retain the trophy and win on American soil for the first time since 2012 at Bethpage in 2025.

We can’t imagine there’d be any complaints should the former World No.1 be offered the role for a second spell.

Rose wins the Nicklaus Jacklin Award

Justin Rose has won the Nicklaus Jacklin Award which recognizes the player that best embodies the true spirit of the Ryder Cup.

The Englishman, making his sixth Ryder Cup appearance at the age of 43 – the oldest player in the event by seven years, helped Bob MacIntyre settle into the team, holed a vital putt in the Friday fourballs to complete a late afternoon session turnaround, and played a vital role with his experience in the teamroom.

Raging Rory answers Donald’s call

America should know better than to poke the bear. Luke Donald called on Rory McIlroy to channel his emotions in the right way and he did so by playing his best golf of the week on Sunday, dispatching Sam Burns 3&1 to secure his fourth victory from five matches.

It was the perfect riposte after his sweary car park altercation with Team USA caddie Joe LaCava on Saturday night and represented his best return ever in a Ryder Cup.

Jon Rahm produced his own highlight reel

OK, so this wasn’t Jon Rahm at his finest. They were the usual moments of anger mixed in with a few too many wayward shots which were out of character for someone usually so consistent.

But when the pressure was on and Europe needed a response, the World No.3 came up clutch time and time again. He chipped in more than any other player throughout the week and wrestled back a point from Scottie Scheffler in their topsy-turvy battle after cozying his eagle putt up to within a gimme range from 90ft away on the final hole.

It was the second time this week that Scheffler had been on the receiving end of a moment of magic from Rahm on the 18th. Might it be a precursor for a major battle further down the line?

Zach Johnson’s team lost it on day one

It feels like an age ago since Europe completed a clean sweep in Friday’s foursomes, but the manner of the result left the US with a mountain to climb after day one. They needed a fast start on Saturday to overturn a five-point deficit, but they didn’t count on two of their biggest stars, Scottie Scheffler and Brooks Koepka, playing the first 11 holes in seven over par and suffering the heaviest 18-hole defeat in Ryder Cup history.

Zach Johnson made a number of questionable calls thereafter, not least retaining faith in Jordan Spieth who drove the ball like a double-digit handicapper over the first two days. To compound matters, Johnson was caught on camera telling Spieth to club down in Saturday’s fourballs before he dumped his tee shot in the water.

A spirited fightback on Sunday did, at least, silence some of his critics, who were branding him the worst US captain in history after Saturday’s opening session left them 9.5-2.5 behind.

Justin Thomas justifies his selection

Few Americans leave Rome with much credit in the bank. Max Homa was arguably their best performer, but Thomas wasn’t far behind him. He didn’t get much help from Jordan Spieth in the fourballs and foursomes and almost single-handedly took the fight to Europe’s biggest stars.

He could still do with joining Scottie Scheffler for a lesson with putting coach Phil Kenyon, but this felt like a big step forward after a season defined by missed cuts and poor performances.

What’s next?

The DP World Tour returns with the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship, from October 5-8, where stars of Europe’s Ryder Cup team will team up with celebrities like Catherine Zeta-Jones, Andy Garcia and Piers Morgan.

The first three rounds take place across the Old Course at St Andrews, Kingsbarns and Carnoustie, and are free to attend for spectators.

The Ryder Cup heads to New York in 2025, with Bethpage Black staging the contest for the first time. Adare Manor, in Ireland, will then take over over hosting duties in four years’ time.

Europe win the Ryder Cup

After a dramatic day, Europe finally sealed the Ryder Cup victory when Rickie Fowler conceded Tommy Fleetwood’s birdie putt on the 16th hole, guaranteeing the Englishman the vital half-point they needed to get over the line. In the end, it was a comprehensive win – 16.5-11.5 – but for long periods of the day it had looked anything but with swathes of red on the board.

Europe move to within half a point of winning back the Ryder Cup.

There’s a lot of red on the board, more than many expected given the form of the Americans over the first two days. Jon Rahm, Rory and Viktor Hovland have done all they can do, and Tyrrell Hatton’s victory over Open champion Brian Harman means Europe cannot lose now.

The next four matches below him favor the Americans currently, meaning it could come down to the last two matches…

US show solidarity?

Maybe they just fancied a change. Or maybe several more members of the US team couldn’t find hats that fit on Sunday morning. But whatever the reason, Xander Schauffele, Collin Morikawa and Justin Thomas all followed Patrick Cantlay in playing without a cap on Sunday, despite temperatures reaching 30ºC in Rome.

Fowler asked to go last

Twitter account ‘Secret Tour Pro’ has said Rickie Fowler has had “Covid-like” symptoms all week but has been testing negative.

Fowler, who hasn’t played a session since the opening morning foursomes, also reportedly asked Zach Johnson if he could be sent out last in the Sunday singles.

Fowler will play in the 11th match against Tommy Fleetwood. The American star was out on the course watching his teammates on Saturday afternoon.

LaCava and Rory make up

Patrick Cantlay’s caddie Joe LaCava and Rory McIlroy have put Saturday’s incidents on the 18th green and in the car park behind them ahead of Sunday’s singles.

LaCava texted McIlroy’s team on Saturday evening, telling them “I love and respect all you guys” and requesting a face-to-face meeting with the Northern Irishman on Sunday.

That took place prior to the players heading out for practice and, as far as the teams are concerned, the matter is now closed.

Cantlay and LaCava received a hostile reception when they arrived on the 1st tee ahead of the American’s match with Justin Rose.

Faldo fumes at Cantlay

Sir Nick Faldo was furious with reports that Patrick Cantlay believes players should be paid to play in the Ryder Cup. The 11-time Ryder Cup player reiterated comments from Luke Donald and Zach Johnson that the event isn’t about earning money but about representing the team and making history.

“Seve would turn in his grave,” the Englishman said.

USA were underprepared

Speaking on Sky Sports, Paul Azinger said he’d had a conversation with one of Team USA’s vice-captains (believed to be Davis Love III) who admitted the team were underprepared for the Ryder Cup.

He said: “You can quote me if you want but we came in flat, we came in rusty, we weren’t ready to go”.

Things you missed at the Ryder Cup on Saturday PM

A photo for the ages

US will need to make history

Patrick Cantlay’s Poulter-at-Medinah-style finish gave the US hope at 10.5-5.5 but they’ll still need to make history if their side is to retain the Ryder Cup. No team has ever come back from more than four points down to win and the last time that happened was… 2012, of course. Europe fought back from a 10-6 deficit to win at Medinah.

Rory rages at Joe LaCava, argument boils over into the car park

Just when you thought this year’s Ryder Cup was a little light on drama, Patrick Cantlay unknowingly became the center of attention on Saturday – and then his caddie, Joe LaCava, managed to annoy just about everyone in blue with his overexuberant celebrations on the final green.

Rory McIlroy was particularly unhappy with his and America’s conduct and his anger boiled over in the car park when he appeared to confront Jim ‘Bones’ Mackay before being led away into a car by Shane Lowry.

The expletive-laden exchange was captured on video, which prompted this response from Luke Donald in his press conference as he attempted to defuse the situation.

“Joe was waving his hat,” explained Donald. “There was some hat waving going on throughout the day from the crowd, for our players.

“[I] talked to Rory. He politely asked Joe to move aside. He was in his line of vision. He stood there and didn’t move for a while and continued to wave the hat, so I think Rory was upset about that.

“I didn’t see the incident personally. I saw the one on 18. As I said in my speech, we always try and play with passion, play with energy, but play with respect. That will certainly be my message to the players.

“Listen, we’re all competitors. We all want to win, but we want to do it in the right way. You know, from what Rory told me, he did ask Joe to move. He took a long time to move. It was a little off-putting because he still had to putt. And so Rory got upset, and I understand that.”

Donald: Players should not be paid

European captain Luke Donald had a simple answer when asked if anyone should receive payment for playing in the Ryder Cup in the wake of reports that the matter has divided the US team room.

“Absolutely not,” the Englishman said categorically. “The Ryder Cup represents true sport. You saw it with some of the passion at the end there. It’s about pride, representing your country, and coming together as a team. It’s the purest form of competition we have and because of that, the fans love it. There’s no extrinsic motivation involved. It’s just pure sport.”

And Johnson agrees

“There are players who would pay to play in the Ryder Cup,” the US captain said.

Patrick Cantlay is reported to be leading a revolt in Team USA's Ryder Cup team room.

Cantlay capgate rumbles on

If you’ve missed the Patrick Cantlay cap saga that’s made headlines today, we can only assume you’re not actually watching the Ryder Cup.

Fans around the course waved caps and sang cap and money-related songs at the American throughout the afternoon fourballs following reports that Cantlay has led a revolt in the US team room over not being paid to play in the Ryder Cup. Part of that revolt, reportedly, includes not wearing a Team USA cap.

Playing alongside Wyndham Clark, Cantlay took the jibes in good spirit and then holed several crucial putts down the stretch to turn their clash with Rory McIlroy and Matt Fitzpatrick from the brink of defeat to a 1up victory.

Inevitably the players’ post-round press conference was dominated by questions about players being paid and ‘capgate’, leading to this exchange.

Do you believe players should be paid to play in the Ryder Cup?

“It’s not about that. It’s just about Team USA and representing our country.

Do you believe they should be paid? Can you answer the question?

“That’s all I’ve got to say about that.”

Can you tell us your lack of wearing a cap, the reason behind it?

“The hat doesn’t fit. It didn’t fit at Whistling Straits, and didn’t fit this week. Everyone knows that.”

Does it need to fit for a team photo? Are you going to wear it for a team photo?

“I was going to go no hat all week regardless, so I figured would I keep it consistent.”

You seem to take the fan reaction towards you very well today. Can you talk about what was your thoughts when you first saw it?

“Yeah, I’ve never had so many standing ovations going to tee boxes and greens. I thought it was fantastic. You know, I told Wyndham when we were going to the 1st tee today that we were going to use all the energy out there as fuel, and we did.”

The US post-mortem may not be pretty

You’d be a fool to call it early. Anyone who was there for the Miracle at Medinah will know that funny things can happen on the Sunday of a Ryder Cup. Even so, the knives are being sharpened with the preparation of the US team coming under the microscope.

There’s no substitute for playing and practicing and the US team haven’t done a whole lot of that recently. In fact, nine of the 12 men on the US team hadn’t played a competitive round in a month. Two of the exceptions, Max Homa and Justin Thomas, have been their best players so far which doesn’t feel like a coincidence.

By contrast, all of the European contingent played at the BMW PGA Championship two weeks ago. It shows.

Unsavory scenes mar afternoon session

American fans tend to get a lot of bad press because of their behavior in Ryder Cups, but they’re not alone in taking things too far. One group of European fans overstepped the mark by trying to bait Justin Thomas over a missed putt, which led to caddies Michael Greller and Jim ‘Bones’ Mackay going over to confront the individuals responsible by the 6th tee.

The duo had to be led away by Jordan Spieth, who tried to play peacemaker as JT attempted to regain his composure.

The incident was just one of a number of unsavory scenes, many of which involved Patrick Cantlay who was subjected to heckling on almost every hole on Saturday afternoon after news broke about his role in a fractured US camp.

Cantlay, who didn’t attend the Gala Dinner, is allegedly refusing to wear Team USA’s cap amid claims he is unhappy over not being paid to play in the Ryder Cup.

Rahm refuses to bite at ‘childish’ claims

Jon Rahm said he had seen Brooks Koepka’s comments in which he called the Spaniard childish on Friday (see post) after some friends sent them to him (“I wish they hadn’t”), but he refused to jab back at the big-hitting American.

The World No.2, says Koepka was referring to him hitting a board after missing a putt on the 17th on Friday afternoon but

“I let off some frustration hitting the board sideways, I kept walking, never stopped, that was it,” he said. “If Brooks thinks that’s childish, it is what it is. He’s entitled to think what he thinks.

“I mean, I’m not going to stand here and say I’m a perfect example on what to do on a golf course. I don’t think either of us two are (glances at Tyrrell Hatton). But I play and compete.

“I’m very comfortable with who I am and what I do. I’ve done much worse on a golf course. That doesn’t even register to a low level of Jon anger on the golf course. As far as I’m concerned, I’m very happy with who I am, and I needed to do that at that moment to let off some steam and play the hole I wanted to do.

“And clearly it worked out, played two great shots and got a little lucky on the putt. I needed to do what I needed to do to perform under those circumstances. Is it right or wrong, childish or not? I don’t know, but that’s what I needed at the moment.”

Brooks Koepka called Jon Rahm childish after their Friday Fourballs at the Ryder Cup.

Rahm said he’s never had an issue with Koepka and that they have similar traits.

We’re both pretty much, you know, straight-up people that don’t like the BS in between. There’s always been that mutual respect. And he’s always been an incredible player, and he’s always done amazing things.

“Listen, had I seen somebody make the putt on 18 the way I did, I would not have been the happiest of people either. Clearly there was a little bit of luck involved with that. But it is match play. I think we saw plenty of the opposite when we were at Whistling Straits two years ago.”

Rory, Hovland to play five

By being named in the afternoon fourballs lineup, both Rory McIlroy and Viktor Hovland will play all five matches at this year’s Ryder Cup.

We’re not ashamed to admit we didn’t expect a single player to feature in all five sessions due to a combination of the energy-sapping heat and physically demanding course. The scoreline would suggest Captain Donald knows best.

Sessions played at the 2023 Ryder Cup (assuming all play singles)

Rory McIlroy, Viktor Hovland, Max Homa

Ludvig Aberg, Patrick Cantlay, Tommy Fleetwood, Brian Harman, Tyrrell Hatton, Collin Morikawa, Jon Rahm, Xander Schauffele, Scottie Scheffler, Jordan Spieth, Justin Thomas

Sam Burns, Wyndham Clark, Matt Fitzpatrick, Nicolai Hojgaard, Brooks Koepka, Shane Lowry, Bob MacIntyre, Justin Rose, Sepp Straka

Rickie Fowler

Fowler sits out

Rickie Fowler’s Ryder Cup return has not gone according to plan.

It is the American star’s first appearance since the 2018 defeat in Paris and, despite missing the Ryder Cup Gala Dinner with illness, he attended the opening ceremony and played in the opening foursomes alongside Collin Morikawa. The pair lost 2&1 to Shane Lowry and Sepp Straka with Fowler looking out of sorts and missing a host of key putts before sitting out the afternoon fourballs.

He was absent from the Saturday foursomes and benched again for the afternoon fourballs as USA tried desperately to get back into the clash. It remains to be seen if he will play any part in the singles.

Things you missed at the Ryder Cup on Saturday AM

Viktor Hovland and Ludvig Aberg completed a record-breaking 9&7 victory over Brooks Koepka and Scottie Scheffler.

Aberg and Hovland make history

Brooks Koepka prides himself on being a big-game player. Scottie Scheffler almost certainly falls into that category as a Major champion and the current World No.1. Together they should have been a powerhouse pairing, but instead they were utterly woeful in the opening match against the Scandinavian duo of Viktor Hovland and rookie Ludvig Aberg.

Koepka and Scheffler were five-over-par through the first three holes and went out in 40. They were so bad, so wayward, that they didn’t even make it past the 11th hole. Their 9&7 hammering represents the heaviest defeat in 96 years of competition.

Aberg and Hovland, it should be said, were six-under for the day at that point. It was some performance from both teams but for entirely different reasons.

In the end, Koepka couldn’t wait to get out of there. Scheffler was left shedding tears on the back of a buggy.

A beautiful tribute to Seve

The atmosphere around the first tee on Saturday morning was the best we’ve seen so far this week in Rome. European vice-captain Jose Maria Olazabal treated everyone to his trademark jig, while fellow assistant Nicolas Colsaerts led the now customary thunderclap to ramp up the party-like atmosphere.

A touching tribute was also paid to Seve Ballesteros in the form of a giant tifo, with the words: ‘Forever in our hearts’. Golf has done a good job of embracing the football fan culture. This was one positive example, the booing of the American players was perhaps not!

Things you missed at the Ryder Cup on Friday PM

Zach Johnson suggested his side have issues with illness after the first day's play.

Illness to blame for USA?

Zach Johnson was “extremely proud” of Team USA despite a demoralizing opening day for his side and suggested that there are health issues within his camp.

“The bottom line is there’s been some unforeseen things that we’ve had to navigate around, which is really unfortunate, in the sense of health.

“It’s not an excuse, because we have depth, but I’ll just say, I’m grateful we have a team doctor.

“We’re just fighting things, I mean, internally. It’s kind of passed around a little bit, caddies, players. It is what it is. But it’s nothing more than that. Guys are fighting and playing regardless. I mean, it’s not anything that’s kind of weighed us down because of the depth we have and because of the many options we think we have.

“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. That’s what we are weighing. Every one of them still wants to play every match, which is encouraging. (But) I’m being honest, it has spread through my team.”

Despite the scoreline, Johnson believes his side can get back into the clash.

“Today’s done, and there’s more opportunity out there,” he said. “28 percent-ish of a tournament is done, so we’ve got 72 percent left. That is a lot of opportunity, which makes for, you know, I would say just an ability to go out and show off and show the true character of this team, which I’ve been very proud of since the very beginning.”

Paddy Power pays out on Europe!

Bookmakers Paddy Power are so confident that there’s no way back for the Americans that they’ve already paid out to anyone who backed Team Europe.

“What could possibly go wrong?,” the firm said. “The last time we did something of this scale, it involved paying out on Hilary Clinton as the next US President and it bit us in the bunker.”

We can’t see there being any such issues this time… but that comment could bite us in 24 hours.

Tommy Fleetwood holes a vital putt for Team Europe in the foursomes on Friday.

No need to change a winning formula

Only the order will change for Europe in tomorrow morning’s foursomes, with Luke Donald sending out the same eight men who achieved the continent’s first opening session whitewash in the history of the clash. If it ain’t broke…

07.35: Rory McIlroy / Tommy Fleetwood vs. Justin Thomas / Jordan Spieth

07.50: Viktor Hovland / Ludvig Aberg vs. Scottie Scheffler / Brooks Koepka

08.05: Sepp Straka / Shane Lowry vs. Max Homa / Brian Harman

08.20: Jon Rahm / Tyrrell Hatton vs. Patrick Cantlay / Xander Schauffele

Hojgaard’s inspiring words

Nicolai Hojgaard may have been the rookie of the pairing, but he provided the words that inspired Jon Rahm to hole the eagle putt that secured their half point on the 18th hole.

The young Dane told his Spanish teammate to “do it for Seve” before Rahm stepped up and drained the 25-footer.

“Those last two holes were a last-ditch effort,” the World No.3 said. “On 18, I have to give credit to Nicolai. Even though he didn’t have a gimme birdie and Brooks’ four-footer wasn’t a gimme, he told me to give it a run. He did give me a little nudge and said, ‘Do it just like Seve would.’”

It’s a moment the legendary Ballesteros would have been proud of.

Afternoon an “unbelievable feat”

Luke Donald was, unsurprisingly, full of praise for his side.

“Ryder Cups are always full of amazing roller coasters and swings throughout the day,” the captain said. Obviously, this morning felt a lot more comfortable than this afternoon. We got off to a fast start this morning. To win 4-0 was very special.

“But this afternoon the US for a while they were holing putts. They were turning around matches. But what we did going down 18 just shows the determination, grit, perseverance, and unity of our team. They never gave up, and they kept pushing till the very end. And to hole putts like Viktor did, like Jon did, and of course Rosey, right at the end, that is huge. 

“It really looked like 3-1 at one point for the US. 5-3, they are well back in the game. But to win that session, when it looked like 3-1, is an unbelievable feat by my guys.”

Holes in the USA’s challenge

Having won just ten holes across the morning, USA did improve in the afternoon, winning another 19. Unfortunately, Europe added to their total of 22 in the morning with another 21 in the second session.

Matt Fitzpatrick celebrates his first Ryder Cup point.

A Fitzpatrick-shaped wall

Matt Fitzpatrick told us he needed to prove to himself that he could win his first point at this Ryder Cup and he did it in immense style, making four birdies and one eagle in an incredible five-hole stretch, and relegating Rory McIlroy to the role of bystander for long periods.

The European pair were six up through six holes, eight-under through 10, and secured a 5&3 win over Collin Morikawa and Xander Schauffele.

“He was carrying Rory, certainly through the front nine,” a delighted Luke Donald said, while Morikawa said they’d “ran into a wall there at the beginning.”

So what was the key for Fitz to end his record of five defeats and zero points? “Six one-putts in a row is normally a big help,” he smiled.

The 2022 US Open champion said his pre-round warm-up had been the best he’d had since the Major triumph.

“I felt comfortable on the range, and obviously (the way I) started those first six holes, I was having goosebumps. 

“I felt like as soon as I got on the green, I had a chance, didn’t matter where I was on the green. You have days like that. You have days where it’s the complete opposite but I was happy to take advantage of that today.”

Koepka jabs at Rahm

The five-time Major champion, who surprisingly sat out the morning foursomes, couldn’t resist throwing a few barbs in his post-match presser (what else is new?) and clearly took issue with the behavior of Jon Rahm.

“Me and Scottie birdied 14, 15, 16, 17, 18.,” he reflected. So yeah. I mean, I want to hit a board and pout just like Jon Rahm did. But, you know, it is what it is. Act like a child. But we’re adults. We move on.”

Justin Rose secured a crucial half point for Europe on Friday afternoon at the 2023 Ryder Cup

An unwanted first for USA

The USA failed to win a match on the opening day of a Ryder Cup against Europe for the first time. Three tied fourballs matches were all Zach Johnson’s side had to show for a long day in the heat after Justin Rose rescued a dramatic tie alongside Bob MacIntyre over Max Homa and Wyndham Clark.

The Englishman and Scotsman came back from two down with two to play with Rose holing a pressure birdie putt on the 18th.

Having remained unused over the course of the morning foursomes, the final hole proved pivotal in the afternoon with three matches heading down the last as the sun began to set and all resulting in Europe grabbing seemingly unexpected halves.

History is now firmly on Europe’s side: 10 of the 12 teams that have led by three or more points after day one have gone on to lift the Ryder Cup.

Points for all

All 24 players took to the course on the first day with all 12 Europeans securing at least a half-point.

Rory McIlroy won both of his Friday matches for the first time in his career, while Jon Rahm, Viktor Hovland, and Tyrrell Hatton all won one and halved one.

Rookies Ludvig Aberg and Sepp Straka both tasted victory in the morning foursomes, while Bob MacIntyre (alongside Justin Rose) and Nicolai Hojgaard secured halves in the afternoon.

Matt Fitzpatrick finally played his first fourballs match and secured his first point on his third start. Shane Lowry enjoyed a first point on home soil, and Tommy Fleetwood kept up his perfect foursomes record in Europe.

Justin Thomas justifies his selection

A lot has been said about Justin Thomas’s form (or lack of it), but he played like a man with a point to prove in the afternoon session and would have secured a point for America had it not been for Viktor Hovland’s moment of magic on the last hole.

Jordan Spieth was left shaking his head, as he had done for much of the back nine as he fought a two-way miss. Justin Thomas basically played the last four holes on his own.

Viktor Hovland couldn't hide his delight after Tyrrell Hatton drove the green on the par-4 16th at Marco Simone.

Donald’s pep talk turned the tie

It doesn’t take much for Tyrrell Hatton to switch into Mr Angry mode. A poor putt left him uttering expletives on the way to the 13th tee, and it didn’t get much better when he pulled his tee shot into the greenside bunker. Luckily, Luke Donald was on hand to put an arm around his shoulder and while it was very much a one-way conversation, the pep talk had the desired effect.

Hatton was all smiles again when he drove the 16th green, a shot which prompted Hovland to run over and give him a bear hug. The two were then celebrating again on the 18th when Hatton rolled his putt in from 32 feet to secure an unlikely half-point. Donald can probably claim an assist!  

A long time coming

Team USA’s fans had very little to cheer for the first half of the day. In fact, it took them six hours and 35 minutes to take the lead in a single match. Justin Thomas’ birdie on the par-4 6th at 2pm put JT and Jordan Spieth one-up against Tyrrell Hatton and Viktor Hovland. The celebrations didn’t last long… Europe won the par-3 7th to tie things up just 12 minutes later.

Things you missed at the Ryder Cup on Friday AM

Practice format proved key

Europe have been playing three-hole matches in practice in order to get off to a rapid start.

“All we’ve been talking about is getting off to fast starts,” Rory McIlroy revealed. “Playing three-hole matches in practice – three holes, go again, three holes, go again. (That’s) something that Luke’s drilled into us. We were ready to go from the first tee shot as obviously as you can see in how everyone played.”

Good omens for Europe

Unsurprisingly, a 4-0 morning win means things are looking pretty rosy for Luke Donald’s side.

When the day started the Americans DataGolf had the at 50.2 percent to retain the Ryder Cup.

The Europeans are now at 74.9 percent odds to bring the trophy back.

And there are plenty of other stats pointing towards a win (and a dominant one).

Troubling times for Captain Johnson

Zach Johnson had every reason to rip up his pairings after the morning session, but you do wonder whether his faith was misplaced from the get-go.

World No.1 Scottie Scheffler and Sam Burns played together for the first time at the 2022 Presidents Cup, but only returned half a point from three matches having lost both foursomes. They extended their rotten record on Friday in Rome, and only won one hole before shaking hands on the 15th.

The rest of Team USA didn’t fare much better, winning 10 holes and losing 22 holes to the Europeans. This is the first time Europe have completed a clean sweep over the Americans in history.

Ace Hoodoo goes on

Jon Rahm was millimeters away from ending the 17-year wait for a hole-in-one at the Ryder Cup.

Less than 24 hours after Viktor Hovland aced the par-4 5th in final practice, the Spaniard jarred the pin at the par-3 7th in the opening foursomes, and playing partner Tyrrell Hatton didn’t even need to take his putter from the bag.

Most importantly, the easy birdie was enough to win the hole and put the European duo 2up over Scottie Scheffler and Sam Burns on their way to a 4&3.

Jon Rahm hit the flag on the par-3 7th.

The last time Ryder Cup fans were treated to a hole in one was during the singles matches in 2006 at the K Club. Scott Verplank aced the 14th hole on his way to a 4&3 win over Padraig Harrington. The American’s feat came just a day after Paul Casey had made a hole in one on the same hiole.

There have only been six in the event’s history. Peter Butler was the first at Muirfield in in 1973 but it was 20 years until we saw another one – Nick Faldo on the 14th at The Belfry in 1993.

Constantino Rocca then holed out in the next Ryder Cup at Oak Hill in 1995, as did Howard Clark. Rocca aced the 11th, while Clark made his on 11.

Things you missed at the Ryder Cup on Thursday PM

Luke Donald gave a rousing speech at the opening ceremony,

All 12 European players will play on Friday

Matt Fitzpatrick, Bob MacIntyre, Justin Rose, and Nicolai Hojgaard will tee it up in the afternoon fourballs after missing out on the morning foursomes, assuming things go to plan according to Luke Donald.

“Plans can change, but right now, yes, everyone will play,” the captain said.

Zach Johnson kept his cards closer. to his chest. “All 12 guys will play Marco Simone this week,” he smiled.

Duolingo works!

Luke Donald began his speech at the Ryder Cup opening ceremony in fluent Italian and it’s all thanks to a language-learning app!

The Englishman and wife Diane have been spending their spare time getting to grips with the language and it paid dividends as the captain addressed the thousands and Marco Simone Golf and Country Club and millions watching at home in the host country’s native tongue as part of an exceptional speech.

“I’ve been doing some Duolingo, actually,” Donald told Bunkered. “It’s a lot better than it was 90 days ago or whatever it was!”

“Rookies will feel like throwing up”

That’s the view of vice-captain (and victorious 2018 captain) Thomas Bjorn.

“When you talk to rookies, you assure them that they don’t need to change anything and that they’re here for a reason. There’s no need to do anything different,” the Dane told Betway. “Just go out, stay close to your partner, and play your best stuff. We’ve always had that – I’ve played with some amazing partners. They give you so much experience and trust, and you’re confident that your partner won’t let you down. That’s what we’re trying to do. 

“The first Ryder Cup is tough for any player, the first time you walk down there you just want to throw up and you have so many thoughts going through your head. We believe that these guys are capable. They have the ability to raise their game. We believe that all of our players will do that.”

Jon Rahm and Tyrrell Hatton will face Scottie Scheffler and Sam Burns.

Friday Foursomes revealed

Jon Rahm and Tyrrell Hatton will lead Team Europe out in the Ryder Cup on Friday with both Ludvig Aberg and Sepp Straka making their debuts in the foursomes.

7.35 (6.35 UK / 1.35 EST): Jon Rahm and Tyrrell Hatton vs. Scottie Scheffler and Sam Burns
7.50: Viktor Hovland and Ludvig Aberg vs. Max Homa and Brian Harman
08.05: Shane Lowry and Sepp Straka vs. Rickie Fowler and Collin Morikawa
08.20: Rory McIlroy and Tommy Fleetwood vs. Xander Schauffele and Patrick Cantlay

Find out how to watch the Ryder Cup for free.

For Europe, Bob MacIntyre, Justin Rose, Matt Fitzpatrick and Nicolai Hojgaard will have to wait until at least the afternoon fourballs to get their Ryder Cup started.

For USA, Justin Thomas, Jordan Spieth, Brooks Koepka and Wyndham Clark sit the morning out. They have 12 Majors between them and we expect them to play in the fourballs.

Europe won the Junior Ryder Cup by a record score.

Europe’s young guns end the hurt

Europe’s youngsters recorded their first win since 2006 with a record-breaking scoreline.

Going into Thursday leading 12-6 after two days of foursomes and fourballs at Golf Nazionale, Stephen Gallacher’s side won the singles session at Marco Simone 8.5-3.5 to take the trophy 20.5-9.5.

The jubilant team then celebrated with Rory McIlroy as he left the course after his nine-hole practice round.

Hovland’s par-4 ‘ace’

If you haven’t seen this then we can only assume you’ve been locked in a cupboard all day. Playing the short par-4 5th, Viktor Hovland holed out from the tee, sending the thousands around the green into raptures.

Little did they know that it was actually Hovland’s second ball and he’d laid up with his first. It doesn’t make the feat any less impressive but a couple of his teammates were quick to play down the achievement.

“Doesn’t count,” quipped Tommy Fleetwood on the 6th tee. “Mark him down for a 3,” a smiling Rory Mcilroy replied.

Interestingly, before receiving confirmation over the radio of who’d hit the shot over the radio, Luke Donald, McIlroy and Fleetwood had all predicted it was a certain Swedish rookie.

Carlos Sainz watches Rory McIlroy's Ryder Cup practice round.

Life in the fast lane

Fresh from his appearance in the All-Star Match on Wednesday, F1 star Carlos Sainz was wandering the links keeping a close eye on Rory McIlroy’s swing.

The Ferrari driver, who won in Singapore just 11 days ago, took in the Northern Irishman’s entire nine-hole practice session and happily posed for photos with fans… and Shane Lowry.

Sainz was on the end of a defeat as part of Team Pavin at Marco Simone on Wednesday so the Spaniard was clearly looking for some inspiration from Tea, Europe’s stars before his next round.

Thousand flock in

Ryder Cup week had felt relatively quiet until Thursday when 37,000 people poured through Marco Simone’s gates and turned the Italian venue into a sea of yellow and blue.

50,000 are expected on Thursday

Things you missed at the Ryder Cup on Thursday AM

Final practice groups revealed

With only a few hours to go until the first pairings are finally revealed, the final practice session gives us the chance to speculate over the potential partnerships for just a little longer.

For Europe, Nicolai Hojgaard, Jon Rahm, Shane Lowry and Sepp Straka will be off first, followed by Tommy Fleetwood, Justin Rose, Bob MacIntyre and Rory McIlroy. The final group sees Matt Fitzpatrick, Viktor Hovland, Ludvig Aberg and Tyrrell Hatton. See who we think will form Team Europe’s pairings.

For USA there are no real surprises. Jordan Spieth, Justin Thomas, Scottie Scheffler and Sam Burns go out first, with Brian Harman, Wyndham Clark, Brooks Koepka, and Max Homa next. Then it’s Rickie Fowler, Xander Schauffele, Patrick Cantlay, and Collin Morikawa. See who we think will form Team USA’s pairings.

Team Europe will play nine holes from the 1st tee, starting at 11am, with USA playing the back nine from 11.30am.

Things you missed at the Ryder Cup on Wednesday PM

Teams shut down Rome

Team Europe and Team USA brought central Rome to a standstill on Wednesday evening as they posed for photographs on the Spanish Steps ahead of the Ryder Cup gala dinner.

Suited. and booted, the teams and their families were greeted by thousands of adoring fans desperate for a glimpse of their favorite players.

The teams were able to enjoy the lavish dinner, which included a performance from singer-songwriter Phillip Phillips, with Thursday practice tee times (11am) giving them time for a lay-in.

Francesca Fiorellini and Giovanni Binaghi of team Europe celebrate their 4&3 win in the Junior Ryder Cup mixed fourballs.

Europe’s Juniors enjoy whitewash

Europe’s youngster took all six matches in the mixed fourballs and head the Junior Ryder Cup 12-6 heading into the singles.

It was a day of dominance from Stephen Gallacher’s team at Golf Nazionale. Having seen their 4-2 morning foursomes lead wiped out in the mixed foursomes on Tuesday afternoon, Europe gave themselves a seemingly unassailable lead today.

Roccio Tejedo and connor Graham beat Anna Davis and Billy Davis 3&2, with Meja Örtengren and Kris Kim defeating Yana Wilson and Miles Russell by the same score.

There was a 2&1 win for Helen Briem and Peter Wernicke over Leigh Chien and Nicholas Gross, and a superb 4&3 win for Francesca Fiorellini and Giovanni Binagh over Kylie Chong and Jay Leng Jnr.

Andrea Revuelta and Lev Grinberg won 1up against Ryleigh Knaub and Jackson Byrd, and Nora Sundberg and Sean Keeling took the anchor match 3&1.

The 12 singles matches will be played at Marco Simone on Thursday, getting underway at 7.30am. Follow all the Junior Ryder Cup scoring.

Brooks Koepka is the only LIV Golf player in the Ryder Cup teams.

LIV team format irrelevant to Ryder Cup

Considering LIV’s team format is one of its USPs, Brooks Koepka clearly didn’t get the memo to sing its praises at this week’s Ryder Cup.

Asked how captaining and being part of Smash GC on LIV could help him in the team format of the Ryder Cup, the US PGA champ shot down the relevance.

“(On LIV) you’re just going to play a round of golf and then the scores add up at the end – I’m not sure how that’s relevant to this.”

We’re sure the Saudis will be delighted by the American’s comments.

Brooks is always good for a quote and didn’t disappoint when asked ‘If the Ryder Cup came down to one match on the course to decide it, I suspect if you ask all 24 guys here if they want the ball, they’d say yes. How many of them do you think really mean it?’

“Very few,” came the reply.

The five-time Major champ also had a simple message for any LIV colleagues disappointed not to be selected fo Team USA. “Play better. That’s always the answer.” We imagine Bryson DeChambeau enjoyed that one.

Away from providing quotes Brooks looks set to move away from his Srixon driver and put a 2021 TaylorMade SIM 2 in play this week. He’s been practising with the 2021 model and has played it before. Check out our in-depth Brooks Koepka WITB for more.

Team Monty take the All-Star Match honors

The first ‘competitive’ action of the week saw former Ryder Cup captains Corey Pavin and Colin Montgomerie lead teams of celebrities and sports stars across a seven-hole match at Marco Simone with the Scotsman’s side victorious.

There was some surprisingly good golf on display from the non-golfers, although we can’t see any of them swapping their day jobs just yet.

Europe’s victorious 2010 captain played alongside former footballer Gareth Bale, and the duo beat Pavin and former footballer Andriy Shevchenko 2-1, with teams awarded a point for each hole they won.

Dude Perfect Garrett Hibbert and Italian surfer Leonardo Fioravanti tied 2-2 with actress Kathryn Newton and NFL star Victor Cruz, while tennis World No.1 Novak Djokovic and the world’s best disability golf star Kipp Popert beat F1 star Carlos Sainz and disability golf star Tomasso Perrino 3-1, to give Team Monty a 7-4 win.

Aberg is double-decent

Playing nine holes of practice together, Shane Lowry and Tyrrell Hatton each found themselves $200 down to rookie Ludvig Aberg and Bob MacIntyre.

Seeking a quick solution the Irishman challenged the Swede to go double or nothing as they reached the short, par-4 16th. Deal agreed, Aberg hit his tee shot to 10ft to leave an eagle putt. “Oh for f*cks sake, Ludvig,” the Irishman said, while shaking his head and smiling.

It came less than 24 hours after Rory McIlroy holed a flop shot from a seemingly impossible position to win a hole against Lowry, which resulted in the four-time Major champion’s ball being thrown in the greenside lake.

Brian Harman is part of Team USA for the 2023 Ryder Cup

Harman expects to be overwhelmed… again

He’s The Open champion and overcame hostile crowds rooting for home favorite Tommy Fleetwood at Hoylake, but Brian Harman isn’t convinced that even that experience will be enough to ready him for the partisan crowd come Friday.

“I don’t think there’s any way to prepare for it,” he said. “I expect them to be as fervent and I expect to be at times overwhelmed by it, just like I was at The Open Championship. It was overwhelming at times.

“The best you can do is just acknowledge it and just move forward and try not to let it affect you as best you can. But it will affect you. You’d be silly not to think that – obviously the home teams in the Ryder Cups have been extremely successful, and a lot of that has to do with the fans. They can affect the outcomes of matches.”

The 36-year-old (who, despite being his doppelganger, still hasn’t met cricket Rickie Ponting) believes the course setup will make par a good score and compared how he’s feeling with the experience of having a first child.

“To say I’ll be ready for Friday morning or Friday afternoon, I don’t think there’s any way you’re ever totally ready,” the rookie said.

“It’s kind of like if you’re trying to give someone advice if they’re about to have their first child. There’s nothing you can tell them to get them ready for it. No, your life is going to change, it’s going to be really hard, but you’ll get through it. There are lots of people that have done it, and it’s up to you how you handle it.”

I’m sure there will be parents-to-be around the globe delighted when golf fans compare their impending arrival with the pressure of the Ryder Cup in the future.

Rickie Fowler gave world record-holder Mondo Duplantis a pole-vault pitl

Did Rickie create a world record-holder?

Rickie Fowler makes his fifth Ryder Cup appearance this week seeking only his second victory. Perhaps the US star can take inspiration from a European – Swedish athlete Armand (Mondo) Duplantis.

Fowler has played golf with the pole-vaulter but, most importantly, gave the world record holder a pole vault pit that was no longer required in the Fowler household three years ago. When did Duplantis first break the world record? That’s right, 2020 – three years ago.

“My wife, she pole vaulted and has kept up with Mondo’s career,” Fowler explained. “He’s obviously a very impressive pole vaulter and continues to break his own world record. We actually had a pole vault pit at our house in Florida, and Mondo and his brother, Andreas, came to pick that up. We didn’t need it anymore. So that’s now his practice pit back in Louisiana.

“It was kind of fun because we were able to make a couple-day trip out of it. They came down, played some golf, got to spend some time with him and his brother. Mondo is an impressive athlete. I was definitely impressed by his golf game.”

Rickie Fowler isn't planning to take up pole vault, despite a friendship with Mondo Duplantis.

So, if he ever gets fed up with golf, can we expect a change of sporting discipline for the Californian? Unlikely – in fact he was never even been tempted to try.

“I stuck to just carrying the poles and getting them from the garage to the pit,” the 34-year-old smiled. “Or filming or giving any insight to what I saw. But I stayed away from taking a run down the runway and trying to pole vault.

“It’s not something that you just pick up and go run and try and plant the pole and make a jump. There’s a few months of work that go into getting to that point. I don’t necessarily have that time, and I don’t think it’s worth the risk with what else I have going on!

“If I’m going to go in the air, it’s going to be on a bike.”

Europe to ‘leak oil’?

A lot has been made of the majority of the US team playing no competitive golf since the Tour Championship – unless you class LIV events, of course. We’ll leave that up to you, lovely reader. But Wyndham Clark believes the lengthy time away from tournament golf will actually prove beneficial and it could be Europe who will struggle.

“Well, I took about two weeks off from golf. I had a long season. (After winning a Major) I went from probably having a lot of free time to having no time. And then we played three tournaments in some of the hottest conditions I’ve ever played in in the FedExCup Playoffs, and afterward, I said, ‘I don’t want to touch a club’.

“I think the European team, it’s great that they got to play, but I also think they might be maybe a little mentally fatigued as this week goes on. This is obviously a very intense environment and mentally challenging, and then also you put in a pretty physically demanding golf course that maybe come Sunday they might be leaking oil and we’ll be fresh.”

Things you missed at the Ryder Cup on Wednesday AM

Rory McIlroy said the Ryder Cup feels strange without the likes of Poulter, Garcia and Westwood.

Ryder Cup week will be a realization for LIV players

Rory McIlroy has admitted the European team room feels “strange” without some of the long-standing players who made the decision to join LIV.

The likes of Ian Poulter, Sergio Garcia, Lee Westwood would all likely have been in Rome in some capacity with Henrik Stenson due to lead the team before he made the move to the Saudi-backed Tour.

McIlroy said he believes this will be a difficult week for those players. Read the full story.

Hatton calls for a playoff to decide ties

Just days after Europe’s dramatic 14-14 tie saw them retain the Solheim Cup in Spain, Tyrrell Hatton has called for the introduction of a Sunday afternoon playoff to decide matches that end in a draw.

Ahead of his third Ryder Cup appearance, the Englishman said the addition would be brilliant for the spectators and create. a new pressure. See the full story.

Matt Fitzpatrick is seeking his first Ryder Cup point in Rome.

Fitzpatrick: “I wasn’t ready for 2016”

Matt Fitzpatrick has a point to prove and is desperate to create some better Ryder Cup memories in Rome as he makes his third appearance, and plays his first home match, for Team Europe. Both previous appearances ended in defeat and haven’t provided the fondest memories on the course for the Englishman, who is still seeking his first point and a fourballs appearance, but it’s his debut in 2016 that he’d most like to change.

“I was still really young, maybe too young.” he said. “Perhaps 2018 would’ve been better for me. I wasn’t the longest back then, pretty short, and there’s quite a lot of technical differences between my swing now and then. I only played one foursomes and the singles, which was disappointing. I was

“My game wasn’t necessarily ready for that at the time. The golf course was It wasn’t an experience that was as good as I’d dreamt it to be. I know much more how to get ready for an event like this now.”

Despite being pointless through his first two Ryder Cup appearances, the 29-year-old says he would take a team victory over personal success this week.

“Obviously I want to win, but I also want to be on a winning team because I haven’t experienced that yet.”

Fiztpatrick, who watched his beloved Sheffield United FC get thumped 8-0 at home to Newcastle in the Premier League on Sunday before heading to Rome said arriving in Italy had helped him quickly overcome the disappointment of the defeat. “No more questions,” he laughed, initially, when asked about the result.

Tyrrell Hatton wants to see an end to ties at the Ryder Cup.

Hatton is king of the expletives

It’s no real surprise to learn that Tyrrell Hatton classes himself as the king of expletives among Team Europe and we can expect plenty of “apologies for any bad language you may have heard,” from commentary teams if, as expected, the Englishman and Jon Rahm are paired together this week.

But Hatton did raise a valid point that could help his potential partner in Rome.

“I don’t understand why Jon doesn’t swear in Spanish,” he laughed. “Why does he swear in English? I don’t get it. He would probably get away with it if he just swore in Spanish. Maybe the English language has a bit more punch to it with certain words.”

Hatton said he would win in a ‘swear-off’ with the Spaniard thanks to his extensive repertoire.

“I’ve got everyone covered when it comes to that,” he smiled. “Just any time of day. No holding back. Doesn’t matter what we’re doing. I’m swearing. F*ck off.”

A legend in the dressing room

Seve is synonymous with the Ryder Cup and, despite his passing in 2011, he’s continued to provide inspiration for Team Europe at Ryder Cups since. That’ll be no different in 2023 with a host of references to the legendary Spaniard in the Team Room.

In a video shared by Team Europe, Luke Donald takes us on a Tour of the European facilities and reveals that Seve has his own dedicated area in the team room as the 13th man. A large image and quote from the great man is also the last thing players will see as they walk out.

Practice groups get a shake-up

Just when we thought he had Team Europe’s pairings nailed, Luke Donald has gone and mixed things up for Wednesday’s nine-hole practice session, which gets underway at 10am from the 10th tee. USA head out on the front nine from 9.45am.

Viktor Hovland, Tommy Fleetwood, Sepp Straka, and Jon Rahm will play together, followed by Ludvig Aberg, Shane Lowry, Tyrrell Hatton, and Robert MacIntyre.

Rory McIlroy, Matt Fitzpatrick, Nicolai Hojgaard, and Justin Rose head out in the final group.

USA’s potential pairings seem more predictable, with Max Homa, Wyndham Clark, Rickie Fowler, and Brian Harman go out first, with Collin Morikawa, Jordan Spieth, Justin Thomas, and Sam Burns next. Xander Schauffele, Scottie Scheffle, Brooks Koepka and Patrick Cantlay will tee off at around 10.15am.

Things you missed at the Ryder Cup on Tuesday PM

Sergio Garcia and Jon Rahm celebrate together at the 43rd Ryder Cup.

Rahm leans on Garcia and Poulter

He’ll be expected to be the voice of experience for the rookies and younger members of the European Team in Rome this week, but Jon Rahm admitted he’s turned to two Ryder Cup legends for guidance.

The Spaniard said he spoke to his fellow countryman as recently as yesterday, while his conversation with ‘The Postman’ was in the last few weeks.

“He (Sergio) did show me a lot of what to do at Whistling and obviously in Paris, as well,” the World No.3 said. “But I did have a little bit of a chat with him, and with Poulter, as well. Not that it’s going to be easy to take on the role that those two had both on and off the golf course, but just to hear them talk about what they thought and what they felt is obviously invaluable information.”

Jon Rahm has been asking Sergio Garcia's advice while at this week's Ryder Cup in Rome.

Rahm plans to use that information to help the less experienced members of this year’s team.

“I always tell them it’s very easy to really be in your mind and your feelings because you don’t really know how to process a week like this so ask as many questions as you can from anybody,” he said.

“There’s no such thing as a stupid question. Just that curiosity is going to get you somewhere. At the same time, I understand that they’re here wanting to prove why they’re here and make their mark as rookies, but there’s always something to learn from some of the great players.”

The 28-year-old also admitted he doesn’t care about being paid to play in the Ryder Cup and would be happy to pay to play in the event.

“This week is a lot of fun, so yeah, I think as long as it’s manageable (the amount) for everybody on the team, because we have one player that was in college like two days ago,” he smiled. “As long as it’s okay for everybody, yeah I would. It means a lot to us, and I think it would be something that I would be willing to do.”

Shane Lowry is hoping to play with Rory McIlroy at some stage in this Ryder Cup.

Lowry: “I’ve cried already”

Shane Lowry said he has already shed tears at some of the things that have happened behind the scenes in Europe’s Team Room. The Irishman didn’t go into detail but we know there were been some emotional videos shown to the players individually and collectively on Monday afternoon, focused on family and where the players have come from to be here.

Meanwhile, Lowry, who is playing his first home Ryder Cup, is hoping to get a chance to put things right on the course with Rory McIlroy.

“Rory and I are good friends, so I think we would love to play together, and we’d love to go out there at some stage,” he said. “We probably feel like we didn’t do ourselves justice in fourballs at Whistling Straits, and I think we maybe would like the opportunity to go at it again and try and win a point this time.

“Anybody would want to play with Rory. He’s one of the best players in the world. He’s one of the best players in my opinion – he’s in the top players of all time already, and he’s not even nearly finished. It would be nice to go out there with him.”

Despite that goal, Lowry admitted the most important thing is a home win.

“I’ll do whatever I’m told,” he smiled. “Honestly, I’m here but I don’t care if I don’t play at all and we win. I don’t really care,. I’m just here to win.”

Psychology at play?

As Team USA gathered to spend some time on the range the giant screen to their right took a sudden cut to highlights of Team Europe’s dominant display in Paris from five years ago. Coincidence or some clever psychology from Luke Donald and his team? We’ll see what happens when they arrive on the range tomorrow.

Speaking of big screens, much of Tommy Fleetwood’s practice round was accompanied by highlights packages of his performances in Paris and clips of him in bed with Francesco Molinari, which we spotted him watching as he waited to putt.

“It was in my face,” he laughed. “(But) Yeah, nicer than watching bad memories or times when you’ve chopped it around. Paris owns a special place in a lot of our hearts and it’s the last Ryder Cup that we won, so it’s actually been quite a long time. I think Ryder Cup memories don’t take much to come back to the front of your mind, and I think it’s still very cool being able to watch those back.

“It’s a very special occasion, and I think any time it’s sort of around, it’s a nice thing to turn your attention to.”

Jordan Spieth says he won't be phased by the fans this week.

Fans won’t phase Spieth

Jordan Spieth knows he can’t expect too much support this week, but admits he’s more than happy to take the heat from the partisan crowds.

“I’ve also shouted plenty of things at sporting events at people that I have no reason to do, so I also try to say, pot and kettle, and recognize that it’s all just sport and move on,” he laughed. “Everyone approaches it differently, and the way I get up and get going normally is not affected by that. But (for) some guys, it is. I could be jealous of that in certain cases.”

Spieth, playing in his fifth Ryder Cup and third on away soil, has spent much of his time in these matches paired with Patrick Reed and Justin Thomas, two players who seem to thrive on the atmosphere and silencing or exciting the crowds.

“I try and just throw it out of my head and just stick to what I’m doing because I think blocking out the noise is the healthiest thing to do,” the Texan said. “I played a lot of matches with Patrick Reed (and) when he felt insulted, he turned the notch up. When I feel insulted, I don’t turn it up or down. I’m just like, okay, they are drunk, move on.”

Meanwhile, Spieth says his spot on the team was never in doubt despite welcoming new daughter Sophie to the world on September 12.

“I guess we were safe but I don’t really want to get personal,” he smiled. “I was not prioritizing my child’s birth to happen at a certain time because of the Ryder Cup, but we knew it was going to happen because of certain reasons. But yeah, everything has gone really well and they are both doing great, and our son (Sammy) has been awesome.”

Nothing to separate the Junior Ryder Cup

Europe and USA are tied at 6-6 after the first day of the Junior Ryder Cup.

The morning foursomes saw the home side take a 4-2 lead with Sean Keeling and Connor Graham fighting back from six down to halve their match in dramatic style.

But the visitors produced a sterling fightback in the afternoon mixed foursomes, winning the final three matches to take the session 4-2.

The stars of the future are playing at Golf Nazionale (about 40 minutes from Marco Simone) for the first two days with mixed fourballs to come tomorrow before they head to the Ryder Cup venue for their singles session on Thursday.

Cantlay the comedian?

Patrick Cantlay is famous for his excellent golf game and, often, his pace of play, but it’s unlikely any of us would have him down as the US team’s joker. Well, it seems we’d be wrong.

Questioned about his playing partner and close friend during his press conference, Xander Schauffele was asked if Cantlay ever tells jokes and revealed the American had been cracking up his teammates throughout lunch just a short time earlier.

“None that I can repeat in this room, obviously, (but it) depends on what rude means to you,” he smiled. It’s 2023. There’s not much you can say anymore, is there?”

Patrick Cantlay consults with his caddie during the final round of the 2023 Masters.

Water under the bridge?

Rewind to April at Augusta and Brooks Koepka was far from complimentary about the pace of play he and Jon Rahm faced as the final group on Sunday. The big-hitting American described Cantlay and Viktor Hovland’s group as “brutally slow” and implied it played a part in his failing to win the tournament.

Footage from Augusta clearly showed Hovland trying to force the pace up, but Cantlay says there is no issue between the two teammates.

“No, not from my part at all,” he said. “I think looking back at his comments, it was in general about it being slow. So no, not a big deal at all, and I’m his biggest fan this week.” Fair enough, but don’t expect to see them paired or Koepka following Cantlay out in the order this week!

Things you missed at the Ryder Cup on Tuesday AM

McIlroy celebrates holing out from the rough in practice at the Ryder Cup..

Roars for Rory already!

There are still three sleeps until the action proper gets underway but Rory McIlroy has already activated full Ryder Cup mode with a fist-clenching, muscle-pumping celebration after holing out with a superb flop shot from the rough on the 8th.

As the crowd roared, Shane Lowry nonchalantly walked to the hole, collected McIlroy’s ball and threw it into the lake.

“It looked like me and Tommy were going to win the hole, and then he chipped in from nowhere, so that was disappointing,” the Irishman smiled. “We were just having a bit of fun out there. We were having a game and he won the hole, so I threw his ball away.”

Tommy Fleetwood has been identified as a future Ryder Cup captain.

Fleetwood identified as a future captain

Donald says the popular Englishman, who is playing in his third Ryder Cup could easily be a future leader of the side.

“I was impressed with the way he handled the situation at The Hero Cup (Fleetwood captained the British side),” the current European skipper said.

“Tommy has a great way about him. He’s very relaxed. He has a smile on his face. He loves being in a team room. He loves the atmosphere. I think his game elevates having that support group around him. He’s very much a team player and one of the best ball-strikers in the world as well.

“I think I expect him to have a great week. He obviously played extremely well (in Paris). You could see when he was paired with Francesco, somebody he was very comfortable with, and he was very successful on the golf course. Again, he’s a team player all in all, and he lives for those moments in those team spaces.”

Let’s pencil Captain Fleetwood in for 2039 (he’ll be 48).

Ignore the protestors

Just Stop Oil and have targeted almost every big sporting event in 2023, meaning the Ryder Cup is on high alert. Italy has its own climate activists who have been causing disruption, including dying the famous Trevi fountain in Rome. Bookmakers are offering as little as 3/1 that protestors will interrupt the event at some stage and 14/1 that a player will fight with one of them! We wouldn’t recommend putting any money on that one.

“There’s a plan in place for everything,” Donald said. The guys will be told not to interact with these people and to carry on.”

Team Europe's bags for the 2023 Ryder Cup.

Stronger Together

At the last Ryder Cup the players’ bags all featured the motto “Make It Count” alongside their unique Ryder Cup number to show just how few players have represented Europe in the biennial clash. The numbers have gone for 2023 (if you’re interested Ludvig Aberg would be 165, Nicolai Hojgaard 166, Bob MacIntyre 167, and Sepp Straka 168), and the motto replaced with a new Latin phrase – Fortior Simul. Translated, it simply means Stronger Together.

If Donald is to be believed then that is definitely true of his team, who he says are already “unified” and “creating an unbreakable bond”.

Rory McIlroy and Michael McEwan at the Ryder Cup in Rome.

Rookie assignment

Is Ludvig Aberg, the young rookie who is just three months into his professional career, phased by playing in the biggest event in golf. Absolutely not. Unsurprisingly Donald says the Swede is not the biggest voice in the room but instead a listener who is relaxed and excited by what lies ahead. “You never get too much high or low from Ludvig,” says Donald, who was famously similar.

The captain says he has assigned each rookie a vice-captain for the week who will be with them on and off the course, with Nicolas Colsaerts looking after Aberg.

Practice pairings drop big hints

We’ve all been speculating as to who will be playing together come Friday morning, but Tuesday morning gave us a much clearer picture with the week’s first practice pairings revealed.

Luke Donald claimed we shouldn’t read too much into them, claiming his groupings are based on press conference schedules. We’re not sure we buy that.

For Europe, Sepp Straka, Tommy Fleetwood, Shane Lowry and Rory McIlroy went out together, followed by Jon Rahm, Viktor Hovland, Tyrrell Hatton and Ludvig Aberg. The final group saw Matt Fitzpatrick, Justin Rose, Bob MacIntyre and Nicolai Hojgaard together.

We walked a few holes with Rory’s group and it quickly became clear that he was playing with Tommy and Shane was playing with Sepp. The Northern Irishman and Englishman play the same golf ball (TaylorMade TP5x), as do the Irishman and Austrian (Srixon Z-Star XV).

We overheard Rory telling Tommy that “we’ll be playing your ball” come the weekend, which means Rory will use the Pix version of the TP5x, designed to aid alignment. He normally plays the standard white model.

Find out what golf balls all the Ryder Cup players are using.

Elsewhere we’d expect Rahm and Hatton, Hovland and Aberg, and Fitzpatrick and Rose to step onto the 1st tee on Friday morning for the foursomes.

Things seem much clearer when it comes to Team USA with plenty of tried and tested pairings on show. Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas played alongside Xander Schauffele and Patrick Cantlay in morning practice, playing a friendly match, and we’d expect to see both of those partnerships across the three days.

Collin Morikawa and Max Homa feel like a natural pairing and they went out with Brian Harman and Rickie Fowler. The final group saw Scottie Scheffler, Brooks Koepka, Wyndham Clark and Sam Burns grouped. Scheffler and Burns seems almost a certainty, with Koepka and Clark a slightly more leftfield pairing.

Team Europe pose for their official Ryder Cup 2023 photographs on the 1st tee at Marco Simone Golf and Country Club in Rome.

Say cheese

Ryder Cup week is one of the busiest the players will face in their schedules and it was an early start for Team Europe who were on the 1st tee before the sun had fully risen ready for their official team photo shoot with their team bags, along with shots with their caddies and the vice-captains.

What did we learn from it? Caps hide some outstanding tan lines. We’re a shorter team than USA. Tommy wins the awards for most well-maintained mane and most hair, obviously. Straka looks even more like Scottie Scheffler’s long-lost sibling without a cap. And, despite being 29 years old and playing his third Ryder Cup, Matt Fitzpatrick still looks like he’s having his school photos taken. Oh, what we wouldn’t give for some of those youthful genes.

Things you missed at the Ryder Cup on Monday

Luke Donald discusses Sergio Garcia during his joint press conference with Zach Johnson at the 2023 Ryder Cup.

Luke doesn’t want to talk LIV

It was inevitable that the week wouldn’t go by without LIV-related questions but, judging by Luke Donald’s opening audience with the media, Europe’s captain won’t be giving the rebel tour much thought here in Rome.

Asked what he made of Jon Rahm’s suggestion that it’s “stupid” not to lean on Sergio Garcia’s experience at the Ryder Cup, and reports that Garcia made last-ditch attempts to be involved this week, Donald was keen to move on.

“We know the situation with Sergio,” the Englishman said. “He resigned his situation five months ago, and once that happened, he was ineligible for me to even consider him. I know there were some stories about him trying to pay off some fines and stuff. Obviously, we know what the DP World Tour rules are, and once you resign, can you not reapply for membership until the following year.

“Again, those things will be decided in the future. Right now I’m just concentrating on my 12 guys that I have this week. My sole focus is dealing with those guys over the next six days and giving them the best opportunity for success.”

Find out what Luke had to say to us in his Ryder Cup interview.

Feeling rough

If we learned anything from Europe’s reccy to Rome at the start of BMW PGA week, it was that the rough was brutally tough and they lost a lot of balls.

The good news is that it’s been cut back. The bad news is that it’s still incredibly thick and anything not finding the fairways or narrow strip of first cut, will be in trouble.

We carried out the classic ‘drop a ball in the rough’ test across several holes and were genuinely shocked by how buried it became. Miss the fairway by more than a few yards this week and the chances are that it’ll be hole over.

Scottie Scheffler working on his putting with Phil Kenyon at the Ryder Cup.

Scheffler turns to Europe for help

Scottie Scheffler’s putting woes have been well-documented throughout 2023 and it’s unlikely we’ll see too many short ones given to the American when the action starts on Friday. But the World No.1 has turned to Europe for assistance in overcoming his inconsistencies on the greens with Englishman and putting guru Phil Kenyon casting his eye over the Major champion’s stroke on Monday. See how Kenyon can save you six strokes per round!

Foursomes before fourballs

We actually revealed this in our detailed guide to the Ryder Cup schedule last week, but as home captain, Donald has chosen to start both Friday and Saturday’s play with foursomes, with fourballs following in the afternoon. Fourballs have been a more common opening format when Europe are at home, but the captain’s reasoning for the decision was simple.

“We feel like as a team, statistically we are stronger in foursomes within our team than we would be in fourballs,” he said. “Why not get off to a fast start? That’s it.”

Let’s hope it works out better this week than it did for the women in last week’s Solheim Cup.

Tiger Woods won't be at the Ryder Cup.

No Tiger in town

Rumors were rife that 15-time Major champion Tiger Woods could be heading to Rome to join the Team USA cheer squad, but Zach Johnson was quick to shoot that down.

“No, Tiger will not be joining us in Italy,” he said. “He’s got a lot on his plate. As far as conferring with him, communicating with him, I mean, we have up to this point, (but) he understands that now that our feet are on the ground, it’s probably kind of best that we navigate this ourselves.

“But he’s always on inner 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. I mean, he’s the best player of our generation.

“Thankfully he’s an American. We are going to utilize his knowledge and his wisdom and his candor and his passion the best we can. When it comes to the week of the tournament, if you’re not in on it and inside the team room, inside the ropes, shoulder-to-shoulder with these guys, it’s not fair to ask him questions.”

Brooks goes solo

Speaking of which, there was a notable absence as Team USA flew out of Atlanta with Brooks Koepka the only member not boarding the flight. Thankfully for US fans, the US PGA champion is here in Rome, he just flew alone from Chicago following the conclusion of LIV’s latest event, where he finished 26th.

“Given time constraints and I don’t know, what’s the word, when you have to take off and when you have to land, whatever you want to call that, the slides of taking off and landing, time-wise, it seemed it was best that Brooks meet us here,” Zach Johnson told reporters at his opening press conference. “He actually beat us here.”

“But for him to fly from Chicago to Atlanta and for us to wait to him and go, we would have got in a lot later. I don’t think it was even feasible. So he met us here.” Panic over.

The 18th hole at Marco Simone Golf and Country Club, where the Ryder Cup could be decided.

Hovland likes the course… this week

Is Marco Simone a golf course these 24 players will return to play again and again after this week? Probably not. Asked his thoughts on the course, we overheard Viktor Hovland say “Erm, it’s a great course… for matchplay.” And there are rumors abound that generally the course Not a glowing report but, ultimately, matchplay is all that matters this week.

It looks like Team Europe will use stand bags, while Team USA will use Tour bags at this year's Ryder Cup.

Team USA doing the heavy lifting

Team Europe’s caddies look set for an easier week if Monday’s practice is anything to go by, with the home team opting for lightweight stand bags, while Team USA’s loopers were lugging around hefty tour bags. Marco Simone is a long, undulating, and exhausting walk, which will take its toll on the men carrying the clubs.

There had even been rumors that Luke Donald was considering pooling the caddies and sending players out without their normal right-hand-men to try and avoid wearing them out, but it appears he’s gone for a slightly less controversial option instead.

Nicolai Hojgaard is congratulated on his Ras al Khaimah victory by twin brother Rasmus.

Brotherly love

One thing you can guarantee with identical twins is that the other is never far away (this author feels comfortable saying that as he’s married to one), so the idea that Nicolai Hojgaard was going to spend a week in Rome without Rasmus on hand was, frankly, absurd.

So what’s the non-playing Hojgaard doing? Potential sub in case of a pre-Ryder Cup injury? No. In fact, I’m pretty sure we could give you ten guesses and you still wouldn’t be close. Rasmus is spending the week as vice-captain Thomas Bjorn’s buggy driver. That’s right, the current world No.88 and four-time DP World Tour winner will spend the week driving around his fellow Dane, just so he can be close to his brother. That’s love for you.

Keeping a leash on Hovland

According to the official documents sent out by the Ryder Cup media team, the Norwegian superstar (and multi-multi-millionaire) is the only playing member of Team Europe riding solo in Rome this week with the other 11 all bringing along wives or partners. Now, you may have missed it, but ‘simple boy’ Viktor is active on dating app Tinder and, as well as its Empire, architecture, and incredible food, Rome is renowned for its beautiful people. Let’s hope Luke has set some clear ground rules and that a Team Europe victory is the only reason Viktor’s keeping that famous grin on his face this week.

The 1st tee grandstand at the Ryder Cup in Rome has a Colosseum-themed wrap.

The S̶p̶a̶n̶i̶s̶h̶ grandstand steps

Not only does the grandstand on the 1st tee look spectacular (especially with its Colosseum-themed wrapping), it also provides a great way to burn off the pasta, meats, and cheeses. It’s 105 steps from the entrance to the media zone at the very top, but worth every one for the incredible view it provides. We’ll be taking a couple of early morning visits to burn off the unnecessary Tiramisu consumed at tonight’s dinner.

The Ryder Cup interview room is built on top of the swimming pool!

No swimming celebrations

We saw Europe’s Solheim Cup stars take a celebratory dip in the pool after retaining the trophy, but there will be no such scenes at Marco Simone. Why? The enormous interview room where all of this week’s press conferences take place has been built over the pool with just a section of the steps left to be seen. We did speculate that there may be a trapdoor installed to dunk any players if they decide to go full Phil on Tom Watson circa 2014, but it seems unlikely.

Hairy moments

It’s not uncommon for Team USA players to get their hair cut in an unusual style to mark the Ryder Cup but it seems 2023 will take it to new levels with a strong mullet theme throughout the current holders’ side. Sam Burns’ trim puts Cam Smith to shame, while Koepka is also rocking a cut that wouldn’t look out of place on Ramsay Street in the late 80s. There are rumors of more to come (we haven’t seen Rickie Fowler, yet, for example), although we’re not expecting Brian Harman to be joining the gang.

Ryder Cup fever hasn’t taken over

At least, not if we’re judging by our taxi driver.

“Can you take me to Marco Simone, please?”


“Marco Simone – the golf club.”

Blank look.

“The golf club where they’re playing the Ryder Cup.”

“I don’t know this?”

Still, eight miles, 45 minutes, several stops to ask police officers directions, and €52 later we were on site. It was the wrong side of the site, but still. That’s one guy who definitely won’t be tuning in on Friday.

Who will play together for Team Europe?
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About the Author

Rob Jerram is Today's Golfer's Digital Editor.

Rob Jerram – Digital Editor

Rob specializes in the DP World Tour, PGA Tour, LIV Golf, and the Ryder Cup, spending large chunks of his days reading about, writing about, and watching the tours each month.

He’s passionate about the equipment used by professional golfers and is also a font of knowledge when it comes to golf balls, golf trolleys, and golf bags, testing thousands down the years.

Rob uses a Callaway Paradym driverTaylorMade M5 5-woodTaylorMade P790 driving ironCallaway Paradym irons (4-AW), TaylorMade MG3 wedges (52º, 58º), Odyssey Tri-Hot 5k Double Wide putter, and Callaway Chrome Soft X golf ball.

You can email Rob or get in touch with him on Twitter.

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