Team Europe is defending an unbeaten run of 'home' wins that dates back to 1997
RYDER CUP PREVIEW: MEET THE TEAMS
Captain: Luke Donald Vice-Captains: José Maria Olazabal, Thomas Bjorn, Francesco Molinari, Eduardo Molinari, Nicolas Colseaerts
JON RAHM Age: 28 World ranking: 3 Ryder Cup Appearances: 2 (’18, ‘21) Record: P3 W1 L2 H0
It’s amazing to think that this will only be Rahm’s second Ryder Cup. Popular with fans on both sides of the Atlantic, the big-hitting Spaniard will have to put in a big shift in Rome, most likely playing in all five matches. A fiery competitor, JR could pair up with everyone and anyone and bring home the points, but without Sergio Garcia in the team, he won’t have a Spanish-speaking partner to share unprintable jokes with.
Age: 34 World ranking: 3 Appearances: 6 (’10-’21) Record: P24 W11 L9 H4
The Northern Irishman has experienced a frustrating year by his own high standards, especially in the majors, where he has drawn a blank for the 10th year running, but with two wins and an impressive run of seven consecutive top-nine finishes stretching back to the US PGA Championship in May, he is playing some seriously good golf that would be even better if his putter behaved itself. A Ryder Cup veteran now, it’s hard to imagine the world.2 not playing in all five matches if early results go his way.
Age: 32 World ranking: 15 Appearances: 2 (’18, ‘21) Record: P8 W4 L2 H2
Fleetwood was a force of nature at the 2018 Ryder Cup, winning all four of his matches playing alongside Francesco Molinari, but he was brought back down to earth in 2021, halving two matches, including his singles, and losing the other. His form this season has been extremely consistent, with seven top-10 finishes, five of which have come in his last seven starts, taking him up to 15th in the world. He finished runner-up at the Italian Open held at Marco Simone in 2021, so has solid course form, and should make a reliable partner in all formats if he can find some form with the putter.
VIKTOR HOVLAND Age: 25 World ranking: 4 Appearances: 1 (’21) Record: P5 W0 L3 H2
Norway’s first ever Ryder Cup player when he made his debut in 2021, Hovland is one of the most exciting talents to emerge in the pro game in many a year, as he showed with his two stunning victories at the PGA Tour’s final two events of the season, where he shot 42 under par for eight rounds and pocketed a cool $21m in prize money for winning the FedEx Cup and the Tour Championship. Having ironed out weaknesses in his chipping game, he will land in Rome in the form of his life, and will be keen to erase the memories of Whistling Straits, where he only managed two half-points.
MATT FITZPATRICK Age: 29 World ranking: 8 Appearances: 2 (’16, ’21) Record: P5 W0 L5 H0
The 2022 US Open champion has endured a mix run of results this season either side of winning the RBC Heritage in April, with four missed cuts before and two since, and a best finish of ninth at The Memorial. His debut Ryder Cup appearance at Hazeltine in 2016 resulted in two defeats from two matches, and he also drew a blank in 2021, losing his two foursomes matches when paired with Lee Westwood and losing 1dwn to Daniel Berger in the final singles when the match was already lost. A much more experienced campaigner now, and with a major title under his belt, the Yorkshireman will be desperate to get on the score sheet in Rome but will need to have one of his ‘on’ weeks.
TYRRELL HATTON Age: 31 World ranking: 14 Appearances: 2 (’18, ‘21) Record: P7 W2 L4 H1
It will be a source of much frustration to Tyrrell that he has only 2.5pts to show for his seven matches in the Ryder Cup, and England’s angriest golfer will be keen to right that wrong in Rome. A former Italian Open champion, he will have the crowd on his side this time, and this ultra-consistent performer will be hopeful of winning his first singles point after being rolled over 4&3 by Justin Thomas in 2021. He comes into the matches in good form, having only missed one cut this year and having had ten top-10 finishes from his last 24 starts.
Age: 36 World Ranking: 37 Appearances: 1 (’21) Record: P3 W1 L2 H0
After winning the BMW PGA Championship last September, Lowry has been in and out of form in 2023, failing to really threaten the leaderboard and with a best result being a tied 5thin below-par field at the Honda Classic in February. A feisty competitor, he clearly relished the white heat of competition at his long overdue Ryder Cup debut Whistling Straits in 2021, especially when winning his foursomes match when paired with Tyrrell Hatton, but he got mauled 4&2 by Patrick Cantlay in the singles and will be fired up to make amends in Rome.
SEPP STRAKA Age: 36 World Ranking: 23 Appearances: Rookie
The burly Straka is only the second Austrian to win a Ryder Cup after following in the footsteps of fellow countryman Bernd Wiesberger, who didn’t fare too well at Whistling Straits in 2021. Straka looks to be a far better player though, with two wins on the PGA Tour (’22 Honda Classic,’23 John Deere Classic) and a tied second in this year’s Open Championship marking him out a serious competitor. He also finished sixth at the Tour Championship so arrives in excellent form.
JUSTIN ROSE Age: 43 World Ranking: 34 Appearances: 5 (‘08, ‘12, ‘14, ‘16, ‘18) Record: P23 W13 L8 H2
A senior statesman in Ryder Cup terms, Rose will add some much-needed experience to the team in Rome in what will be his sixth appearance in the matches. He ended a four-year winless streak in February when claiming the Pebble Beach Pro-am to boost his Ryder Cup hopes and has since performed well enough to earn a captain’s pick, despite missing the cut in the US Open and the Open. After missing out in 2010 and 2018, he has a good win ratio.
NICOLAI HOJGAARD Age: 22 World Ranking: 78Appearances: Rookie
The younger of the talented Danish twins has enjoyed a superb start to his professional career, having won three times on the DP World since 2019, including victory at Marco Simone in the Italian Open in 2020. A huge driver of the ball, and with an ice cool temperament, he has also acquittd himself well on the PGA Tour, finishing 14th in the recent Wydham Championshp and runner up in the Corales Puntacana Championship. A captain’s pick, he comes into the matches in good form, having finished third at the Czech Open and fifth at this month’s Omega European Masters.
ROBERT MCINTYRE Age: 27 World Ranking: 55 Appearances: Rookie
McIntyre becomes the first Scot to play in the Ryder Cup since Stephen Gallacher’s appearance at Gleneagles in 2014 after finishing ? in the points list following a supremely consistent season that has seen him secure six top-10 finishes, including an heart-breaking second behind Rory McIlroy in the Scottish Open. The talented left-hander has shown he has a liking for the Ryder Cup course having won the Italian Open there just 12 months ago when he beat Matt Fitzpatrick in a play-off, and he is well worth his place, although this is a considerable jump in class.
LUDVIG ÅBERG Age: 23 World Ranking: 80 Appearances: Rookie
Åberg is only the second player after Sergio Garcia to bag a Ryder Cup spot in the same year that he turned professional. The 23-year-old Texas University graduate only left the amateur ranks in June, but has already won his first DP World Tour event, timing his run nicely with victory at the European Masters just the day before Luke Donald announced his captain’s picks. After reaching no.1 in the amateur ranks, the big-hitting Swede has all the attibutes to make it to the very top of the game, and according to those in know, has a calm head on young shoulders. It’s asking alot to step up so quickly, but he already has plenty of Tour experience and is clearly a class act.
Captain: ZACH JOHNSON Vice-Captains: Stewart Cink, Fred Couples, Jim Furyk, Davis Love III, Steve Stricker
SCOTTIE SCHEFFLER Age: 27 World Ranking: 1 Ryder Cup appearances: 1 (’21) Ryder Cup record: P3 W3 L0 T0
Scheffler has been the most consistent performer in the top events over the last two years, with his ’22 Masters win coming on the back of three wins in the six-week period before that. Wins at the Phoenix Open and The Players at the start of this year confirmed his status as world no.1 and continued an extraordinary run of results that saw him finish no worse than 12th in 20 consecutive events from November 2022 to his tied third at the Scottish Open in July. A rookie at Whistling Straits in 2021, he could do no more than win all three of his matches, including a 4&2 beating of Jon Rahm in the singles.
Age: 29 World Ranking: 9 Ryder Cup appearances: rookie
Hovering around the top 50 for the past two years, Harman moved up a gear with two runner’s up finishes at the start of the PGA Tour’s season in November last year. After a decent performance in the wind at the Scottish Open, he arrived at the Open Championship as a 250-1 outsider, however, he soon made of those odds look very generous when destroying the field by five shots. Although Marco Simone won’t be anything like the same test as Hoylake, if he has his putting boots on again the world no.9 will be a more than useful rookie to have in the side.
PATRICK CANTLAY Age: 31 World Ranking: 5 Ryder Cup appearances: 1 (’21) Ryder Cup record: P W L T
The ultra-consistent Cantlay is one of host of US players who are knocking at the door of major success. Wins at the BMW Championship in 2021 and 2022 boosted his world ranking points, as has eight other top-10 finishes over the last 12 months. His putting makes him a major asset in all formats of the Ryder Cup, where he made an impressive debut in 2021, winning 3.5 points from his four matches – including a 4&2 defeat of Shane Lowry in the singles – and forming an unbeaten partnership with Xander Schauffele, which can expect to be renewed in Rome. His deliberate pace of play won’t excite the fans, but that won’t bother him.
MAX HOMA Age: 32 World Ranking: 7 Ryder Cup appearances: rookie
The 32-year-old Californian has been one of the hottest players on the PGA Tour over the last two years, winning five times since February 2021, with his latest win coming at the Farmers Insurance Open back in January. Since then he has enjoyed an admirably consistent season, bagging seven top-10 finishes and finishing fifth in the Ryder Cup points list to earn one of the six automatic spots on offer. He ranks fifth in strokes gained with the putter on the PGA Tour this season – which is a valuable match play asset.
WYNDHAM CLARK Age: 29 World Ranking: 11 Ryder Cup appearances: rookie
Virtually unknown outside of his own family circle before his victory at the Wells Fargo Championship in May, Clark made sure the world knew who he was when winning the US Open at LA Country Club in June, where he beat Rory McIlroy by one shot to claim a major title at what was only his eighth attempt. Seemingly unflappable, his cool head will stand him in good stead in the white heat of the Ryder Cup, but he’s yet to play outside of US, barring two unmemorable Open appearances, so it will be interesting to see how his game transitions to Italy and a partisan crowd.
XANDER SCHAUFFELE Age: 29 World Ranking: 6 Ryder Cup appearances: 1 (’21) Ryder Cup record: P4 W3 L1 T0
The Tokyo Olympic gold medallist seems to have been around for eons, and never seems to be far from the top of the leaderboard most weeks. With six PGA Tour wins to his name, he’s another that would have hoped to have a Major in the bag by now, but that tied second at the 2019 Masters is beginning to feel like a while ago. Eight top-10s this year, and a runner-up spot in the Tour Championship, point to man in good form, and his impressive debut at Whistling Straits two years ago suggest that he’s cool head to have in pressurised situations. He also ranks top-5 in strokes gained with the putter.
BROOKS KOEPKA Age: 35 World Rank: 14 Ryder Cup appearances: 3 (’16, ’18, ‘21) Ryder Cup record: P12 W6 L5 T1
After losing out to Jon Rahm at the Masters, Koepka went one better at the PGA Championship to put himself right in the mix for automatic qualification for the Ryder Cup team season, although ultimately he had to rely on a captain’s pick after missing out on of the six spots by one place after results went against him in the BMW Championship. The winner of two LIV Golf events, most recently in Orlando in April, he arrives in decent form and has a 50% win record from his 12 Ryder Cup matches.
JORDAN SPIETH Age: 30 World Ranking: 12 Ryder Cup appearances: 4 (‘14, ‘16, ‘18, ‘21) Ryder Cup record: P18 W8 L7 T1
One of the six captain’s picks, Spieth will be playing in his fifth consecutive Ryder Cup, the longest current streak among the American contingent. The dual major winner has had a somewhat up-and-down year, with seven top-6 finishes countered by six missed cuts. He lost a play-off to Matt Fitzpatrick at the RBC Heritage in April, a tournament he won in 2022. His career Ryder Cup makes for decent reading, and he has only lost twice in seven outings in fourballs.
COLLIN MORIKAWA Age: 26 World Ranking: 20 Ryder Cup Appearances: 1 Ryder Cup record: P4 W3 L1 T0
Another to gain his place with a captain’s pick, Morikawa burst onto the scene in 2020 when winning the PGA Championship when almost fresh out of college. He followed that up in 2021 by winning the Open at St George’s to announce himself as a rare talent indeed. He showed that he’s no slouch in team golf too when winning all three of his matches when paired with Dustin Johnson and tying his singles with Viktor Hovland in his Ryder Cup debut in 2021. Without a win since the DP World Tour Championship that same year, he arrives in Rome in good form, having finished 4th in the Tour Championship.
RICKIE FOWLER Age: 34 World Ranking: 25 Ryder Cup appearances: 5 Ryder Cup record: P15 W3 L7 H5
After featuring strongly at the US Open and then bagging his first PGA Tour in four years at last month’s Rocket Mortgage Classic, fan favourite Fowler was always a likely captain’s pick. A mainstay of American team events in the 2010s, Fowler was missing from the last two Presidents Cups and the Americans’ 2021 Ryder Cup. While his RC playing record leaves something to be desired – just 3 wins from 15 matches – his experience and rejuvenated form should be assets for the US team.
SAM BURNS Age: 27 World Ranking: 21 Ryder Cup appearances: Rookie
Burns won the lone match-play event on the PGA TOUR calendar when beating Cameron Young at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play in March. It’s been a somewhat inconsistent season from there, though. Burns’ T6 at the Charles Schwab Challenge and his T9 at the TOUR Championship were his only top-10 finishes since his win in Austin. This will mark Burns’ first Ryder Cup appearance, and he went 0-3-2 at the Presidents Cup last year.
Age: 27 World Rank: 26 Ryder Cup appearances: 2 Ryder Cup record: P9 W6 L2 H1
After finishing 15th in the Ryder Cup points list, Thomas has done well to get himself a captain’s pick and got through on his popularity with his teammates and his past team performances rather than his current form, which has been uncharacteristically poor during a season which culminated in him missing the FedEx Cup play-offs. He has lost just two of his 9 Ryder Cup matches to date.