The 44th Ryder Cup gets underway in Rome, Italy on Friday with team Europe’s course knowledge looking like a key advantage as Luke Donald’s side aim to banish memories of 2021’s record-breaking defeat against the USA at Whistling Straits.
A 19-9 defeat two years ago for team Europe was the biggest loss for any side in a Ryder Cup since 1967. However, back on home soil and facing an American team that has been seemingly divided by political unrest in the lead up to the biennial event should see the European’s confident of wrestling back the Samuel Ryder trophy.
Marco Simone Golf & Country Club is the venue for the 2023 Ryder Cup with the course hosting that past three Italian Opens. Not one member of the US team featured in any of those three Italian Opens while team Europe contains two winners of the tournament in recent years and a whole hosts of players who posted some good efforts at the course.
Nicolai Højgaard was triumphant in the 2021 Italian open while the following year saw Robert MacIntyre and Matthew Fitzpatrick do battle in a play-off which was eventually won by Scotsman MacIntyre.
Others members of this week’s European team to enjoy good placings at Marco Simone Golf & Country Club in recent years include Rory McIlroy (T3 – 2021, T10 – 2022), Tyrell Hatton (8th – 2022), and Tommy Fleetwood (T2 – 2021).
Not only do the American’s lack course experience but the majority of Zach Johnson’s crew also lack any kind of recent competitive action with only Justin Thomas, Max Homa, and Brooks Koepka playing in a competitive event since the Tour Championship at the end of August.
Speaking of Koepka, that’s where the politics comes into play with US captain Zach Johnson excluding the likes of Dustin Johnson and Bryson DeChambeau from his traveling team despite the fact both men were among the States top performers at the last Ryder Cup.
In fact, had Koepka not won the US PGA Championship then it would have been very likely that he too would have been watching from home along with his fellow LIV Golf rebels.
Even if there was a more harmonious look about the American team the size of their task remains enormous given 7 of the last 8 Ryder Cup’s have been won by the home side. In fact, it’s 30 years since the American’s last won on European turf with the continent taking the last 7 Ryder Cup’s they have hosted.
Europe also hold the edge when it comes to Ryder Cup experience with their 12 players holding a combined total of 21 previous caps while the visitors have only mustered together 17 previous Ryder Cup appearances.
While America can claim the World number one as their own in Scottie Scheffler, Europe are responsible for three of the World’s top four ranked players in Rory McIlroy (2), Jon Rahm (3), and recent FedEx Cup winner Victor Hovland (4).
As a result, this US team lack the fear factor that came with American teams of the past and with the backing of a boisterous home crowd, Europe can regain the Ryder Cup and keep their impressive home record alive this week in Rome.
VERDICT: Europe outright win (EVS).