The 2023 Ryder Cup takes place at Marco Simone Golf & Country Club from 29 September – 1 October. Can Luke Donald lead Europe to victory?
The much-anticipated Ryder Cup returns this weekend for its 44th edition, and this year, it’s on European soil. After a 19-9 thrashing in 2021 – the largest winning margin since 1979 – the stakes are even higher for Team Europe. Can they claim back the coveted gold trophy from the Americans? This weekend, winning, not prize money, is the reward.
Who is playing in the Ryder Cup?
This year, Team Europe will be led by Luke Donald, while our American rivals will be captained by Zach Johnson.
Six players automatically qualify for the Europe Ryder Cup team and Team US. Plus there are a further six Captain picks on both sides, giving each team a strategic balance of experience, fresh blood and sheer passion.
For Europe, Rory McIlroy, John Rahm, Robert MacIntyre, Viktor Hovland, Tyrrell Hatton and Matt Fitzpatrick all qualified via the European Ryder Cup points and World points lists.
And after narrowly missing automatic qualification, Tommy Fleetwood was announced as the first Captain’s pick, along with Shane Lowry and Justin Rose. Ryder Cup rookies Sepp Straka, Nicolai Højgaard and Ludvig Aberg completed Luke Donald’s six picks.
For Team US, the automatic qualifiers were Scottie Scheffler, Wyndham Clark, Brian Harman, Patrick Cantlay, Xander Schauffele and Max Homa. And Brooks Koepka, Jordan Spieth, Collin Morikawa, Rickie Fowler, Justin Thomas and Sam Burns all made the team through Captain’s picks. This is going to be good …
- Captain: Luke Donald
- Vice-captain: Thomas Bjørn
- Vice-captain: Nicolas Colsaerts
- Vice-captain: José María Olazábal
- Vice-captain: Edoardo Molinari
- Vice-captain: Francesco Molinari
- Rory McIlroy
- John Rahm
- Robert MacIntyre
- Viktor Hovland
- Tyrrell Hatton
- Matt Fitzpatrick
- Tommy Fleetwood
- Shane Lowry
- Justin Rose
- Sepp Straka
- Nicolai Højgaard
- Ludvig Aberg
- Captain: Zach Johnson
- Vice captain: Steve Stricker
- Vice captain: Davis Love III
- Vice captain: Jim Furyk
- Vice captain: Fred Couples
- Vice captain: Stewart Cink
- Scottie Scheffler
- Wyndham Clark
- Brian Harman
- Patrick Cantlay
- Xander Schauffele
- Max Homa
- Brooks Koepka
- Jordan Spieth
- Collin Morikawa
- Rickie Fowler
- Justin Thomas
- Sam Burns
Can Europe claim a Ryder Cup victory in Rome?
Both teams are pretty closely matched, in terms of talent and momentum, so there’s no doubt this Ryder Cup is going to be one of the all-time greats.
But after a 19-9 defeat at Whistling Straits in 2021, Europe will feel like they’ve got something to prove in Rome this year. Will that give them the edge they need, or will it just add to the pressure?
Either way, the odds are looking good: Europe’s won eight out of the last 11 Ryder Cups and dominated on home soil. In fact, the last time the Americans won in Europe was 1993 – 30 years ago.
Let’s hope that Donald’s lads have been buoyed by that history of triumph, giving them the confidence they need to pull off another victory this year.
And whilst we can’t rely on home advantage alone, there is an argument that the course at Marco Simone Golf and Country Club will be better suited to the Europeans. Playing well around there requires accuracy – not distance – and some strategic course management, which could work in Europe’s favour.
As well, Europeans have traditionally had more experience playing this style of golf course than the Americans. However, with almost everyone on the European side playing the same PGA events each week as our friends across the ponds, that might not be as much of an advantage as it once was.
The 2023 Ryder Cup will take place at Marco Simone Golf and Country Club in Rome, Italy. It’s the first time Rome has played host to the Ryder Cup, and the course has seen some major improvements in preparation for its inaugural event.
The course was redesigned between 2018 and 2021 to focus on creating more risk and reward opportunities for players. It was reconstructing specifically with match play in mind, but also to maximise the natural rolling countryside terrain.
There’s a lot of speculation around how the course will be set up this weekend; will we see something similar to Paris, with tighter fairways and longer rough to force players to focus on accuracy and strategy? It seems likely, as we know traditionally that’s given the Europeans the upper hand.
However, there could be an interesting dynamic at play this year. I saw a tweet recently that said that on paper, the Europeans have a longer driving distance (308.5 vs 306.5), whilst the Americans have slightly better driving accuracy (59.7% vs 60.3%). I haven’t looked into the numbers to validate them, but if that’s true, it could flip everything on its head.
Let’s see …
The Ryder Cup takes place over three days.
There are four fourball matches – each player plays his own ball and the lowest score counts – and four foursomes matches – where players hit alternate shots – each day on Friday and Saturday.
Sunday is reserved for 12 singles matches.
Each match is worth one point, and matches ending in a draw are worth half a point. The first team to reach 14 ½ points wins the Ryder Cup. If there’s a 14-14 draw, the cup is retained by the last winning team.
The Ryder Cup has become one of the greatest sporting events in the world. Even still, one of its biggest charms is that the tournament stays true to the spirit of its founder, Samuel Ryder.
Ryder was an English entrepreneur and businessman who made a living selling garden seeds in “penny packets”. A golf enthusiast, Ryder and his brother started sponsoring golf tournaments from 1923.
Then in 1926 when a match between British and American professionals was proposed, Ryder sponsored the event to make sure it happened.
The match became an official event in 1927 and Ryder donated a gold trophy.
And so Ryder Cup was born.
2023 Ryder Cup: How to watch
With round-the-clock coverage and hours of live action, you can catch all the drama on Sky Sports’ dedicated Ryder Cup channel.
To find out more about the Ryder Cup, visit RyderCup.com.