Teams from the USA and Europe are set to clash on September 29th at Marco Simone Golf and Country Club outside Rome, Italy. The course has received some contentious feedback due to its narrow fairways and thick rough. However, the back nine is sure to provide some exciting drama at the end of each match with two drivable par fours and the longest closing par five in Ryder Cup history (which offers views of St. Peter's Basilica). While Marco Simone is a relative unknown to the US golf fan, it has been a DPW Tour stop, and the Europeans are quite familiar with it.
The course was built in 1989 on the grounds of the Marco Simone Castle, an 11th-century castle purchased by Italian fashion designer Laura Biagiotti. Originally 27 holes, the property was condensed to 18 as part of the Tom Fazio and Dave Sampson renovation in 2018, connected to the course's Ryder Cup bid. The renovation was completed in 2021 in time to host the Italian Open, won by European Team member Nicolai Højgaard.
You're going to be missing a few Ryder Cup stalwarts in the lineup this year. The fallout from players joining LIV Golf took a toll on the European roster. Captain Henrik Stenson, Ian Poulter, Lee Westwood, and Sergio Garcia all lost eligibility. On the surface, this looks like a loss as the big three have been a part of the Ryder Cup for over a decade. However, the door is now open for the next generation to step in.
Supreme ball striker and former #1 Luke Donald captains Tommy Fleetwood, Tyrell Hatton, Viktor Hofland, Robert Macintyre, Rory McIlroy, Jon Rahm, Justin Rose, Shane Lowry, and Matt Fitzpatrick. These are the names you know. Already forgotten about the big three? Now for the names you may not know: Nicolai Højgaard (won the Italian Open at Marco Simone), Sepp Straka (UGA graduate and PGA TOUR winner), and Ludvig Åberg (a stone-faced killer that graduated Texas Tech this Spring, got his TOUR card, and won a few weeks ago on the DPWT). This team is stacked and ready to keep the 30-year European dominance intact.
The USA, for the first time in what feels like a century, will be playing the Ryder Cup without Phil Mickelson or Tiger Woods. The USA also took some casualties from players joining LIV. However, Brooks Koepka, with a strong placing at the Masters and a win at the PGA Championship, becomes the first and only LIV golfer to play his way onto the team.
Team Captain, and Masters and Open Champion Zach Johnson, leads Scottie Scheffler, Xander Schauffele, Colin Morikawa, Brooks Koepka, Max Homa, Brian Harman, Rickie Fowler, Wyndham Clark, Patrick Cantlay, Sam Burns, Jordan Spieth, and Justin Thomas. This team's got three of the four major winners this year and none of the baggage of years past. They're set to defend the Cup and look to win for the first time in 30 years on European soil.
This is going to be a close Ryder Cup. Each team has players trending, and each team has players coming in with questions. Despite what this year's tournament results show, match play and team match play are entirely different animals than stroke golf. Expect a dominant performance from Åberg, and don't count Justin Thomas out.
USA retains the Cup with a draw.
About the Author
I'm Zach, the owner of BestGrips, and the creator of the Grip Life. I'm an avid club gear-head and course rater for the Dallas Morning News. Sometimes, I play to my 2.1 handicap. You can also find me on GolfWRX, NLU's Refuge, and X as SewillZ.