The 44th Ryder Cup, set to take place in Italy at the Marco Simone Golf & Country Club, is poised to change the perception of golf in the country. While Italy is renowned for its pasta, bread, and wine, it has not traditionally been associated with golf. However, this prestigious tournament has the potential to alter that narrative, if only for a week.
The U.S. team will attempt to secure a victory on European soil for the first time since 1993 when the Ryder Cup was held at The Belfry on the outskirts of Birmingham in the United Kingdom. The European side, on the other hand, will strive to avoid the infamy that would accompany a loss on home turf.
With the U.S. team currently in possession of the Ryder Cup, following their commanding 19-9 victory in 2021 at Whistling Straits, the pressure is on the European side to reclaim the trophy. The home team has emerged victorious in seven of the last eight Ryder Cups and ten of the past twelve, a statistic the U.S. players are eager to change.
The significance of winning the Ryder Cup away from home cannot be overstated. Rory McIlroy, who will be competing in his seventh Ryder Cup for Europe, acknowledged the challenge, stating that it would be a “huge accomplishment” for the next team that manages to secure victory on foreign soil.
Passion and pride are the driving forces behind this biennial event. Historically, European players, often considered underdogs to the more lucrative PGA Tour, took immense pride in winning the Ryder Cup. However, in recent years, a more engaged and emotional U.S. team has emerged, tired of being overshadowed by their European counterparts. This shift in dynamic has resulted in an even more thrilling and competitive rivalry.
Looking back to the last Ryder Cup, American players were already planning their redemption at this year’s tournament in Italy. Jordan Spieth confidently declared, “If we play like we did this week, the score will look the same over there.” This statement will undoubtedly serve as motivation for the European team.
Since the last Ryder Cup, significant changes have taken place in the golfing world. The establishment of LIV Golf, a Saudi-backed tour, has created a divide between the PGA Tour and DP European Tour. While the PGA Tour maintains a ban on LIV players competing in their events, the Ryder Cup is governed by the PGA of America, which has not imposed such restrictions. Consequently, only one player competing in this year’s tournament, Brooks Koepka, is a member of LIV Golf.
Team Europe, on the other hand, does not have any LIV players on their roster. This shift in personnel reflects a new era, with notable Ryder Cup mainstays such as Sergio Garcia, Ian Poulter, and Lee Westwood missing out on the event that has defined their careers. Henrik Stenson, originally selected as the European Ryder Cup captain, was replaced by Luke Donald after he joined LIV Golf. The scars of these personnel changes, particularly for the European team, run deep.
For the U.S. team, the scars are rooted in their struggle to secure a victory on European soil. With five players, including the top-ranked player Scottie Scheffler, who were not even born the last time the Americans won a Ryder Cup on European territory, the challenge is daunting. Nevertheless, Scheffler expressed confidence in the team’s chances, highlighting the freshness and determination of the newcomers.
As the Ryder Cup gets underway in Rome, just miles away from the iconic Colosseum, the stage is set for a captivating battle. It is an opportunity for Italy to showcase its passion for golf and for the U.S. team to break the streak of losses on European soil. With both sides fueled by pride and a desire for victory, the 44th Ryder Cup promises to be a spectacle not to be missed.