What you need to know about the 44th edition of the Ryder Cup at Marco Simone Golf & Country Club
U.S. Defend on European Soil
The U.S. Team make their way to Marco Simone Golf & Country Club for the 44th edition of the Ryder Cup with hopes of defending after prevailing with a record 19-9 victory over Europe at Whistling Straits in 2021.
Captain Zach Johnson appears undaunted by the task at hand for the U.S. Team, who are attempting to win on European soil for the first time since 1993. The last time they came over, in 2018, Thomas Bjorn's side ended the week at Le Golf National claiming Ryder Cup glory with a winning margin of 17.5 points to 10.5 points.
Yet despite the added weight of history, Johnson is adamant that while his team are keen to embrace the difficulty of playing away from home, they will not be bearing the burden of teams of the past.
"I know what history says," he told media on Monday.
"I'm very aware of that. But at the same time I can speak confidently, and talking to my team, these guys are ready and want to embrace that difficulty and want to just look at this as a great opportunity."
"The teams of the past are teams of the part. This is a new team with a new opportunity."
A change in opening session strategy
European Ryder Cup Captain Luke Donald is hoping to get off to a fast start in the opening foursomes in the 44th Ryder Cup at Marco Simone Golf & Country Club.
The opening session usually kicks off with four-balls, but the 2023 edition will begin with foursomes on Friday in Italy as Team Europe try to reclaim the Ryder Cup in Rome against a team that is trying to win away from home for the first time in 30 years.
Why the change?
Put quite simply, Europe's record in foursomes across the board is stronger than it is in four-ball matches. For Donald, a decision to switch from the tradition of opening four-balls wasn't one he had to think long about but rather a simple case of doing whatever will give Europe the best chance of gaining an early advantage.
"Pretty simple really," Donald said when he met with media for the first time on site on Monday.
"We feel like as a team, statistically, we are stronger in foursomes within our team than we would be in four-balls. Why not get off to a fast start? That's it."
Marco Simone Golf & Country Club
Italy will play host to its first Ryder Cup this year, staged at Marco Simone Golf & Country Club.
The prologue of Marco Simone begins in 1978, when Italian fashion designer Laura Biagiotti and eventual husband Gianna Cigna purchased Marco Simone Castle, which dates to the 11th century, and the surrounding land in Guidonia, less than ten miles from Rome’s city centre. Eleven years after that acquisition, 27 holes of golf were constructed, including an 18-hole championship layout.
In 2018, as part of receiving its Ryder Cup bid, Marco Simone had its 18 holes – the other nine no longer exist – renovated by the collaboration of American architect Tom Fazio and Euro Golf Design’s Dave Sampson. Completed in 2021, the renovation included redesigning every hole. The back nine, like McIlroy alluded to, features some exciting holes, including two drivable par fours, Nos. 11 and 16, as well as the longest closing par five in Ryder Cup history, the 597-yard 18th hole. Those three holes are among the five that provide views of St. Peter’s Basilica off in the distance. The castle sits behind the fifth hole.
Marco Simone has previously hosted the Italian Open on the DP World Tour every year since 2021, as well as 1994. This week the course will play to a par of 71 and a yardage of 7,181 yards. There is also 170 feet of elevation change, and the grasses are as follows – paspalum fairways, fescue rough and bentgrass greens.
The redesign of Marco Simone Golf and Country Club, led by European Golf Design in cooperation with Tom Fazio II, began in August 2018 and was completed in March 2021. It focused on creating a golf course specifically with the drama of match play in mind, with the previous layout rerouted not only to provide numerous risk and reward opportunities for the world’s leading players, but also to maximise the natural rolling countryside terrain. Spectators will have unrivalled vantage points of the on-course action as well as distant views of the famous Eternal City, including spectacular views of St Peter’s Basilica and of the Castle of Marco Simone which together will provide the backdrop to golf’s greatest team contest.
Roots on the DP World Tour
While the majority of the U.S. Team only saw Marco Simone for the very first time during a practice trip a couple of weeks ago, the players on the DP World Tour have been enjoying success at the Italian venue as a recent regular stop on the DP World Tour schedule over the last three years. In fact, of three editions at the Rome venue, two of the winners are now rookies in Team Europe.
Danish rookie Nicolai Højgaard became the first winner at the Ryder Cup venue when he triumphed during the Italian Open's first staging here in 2021, and followed up that success with a fifth placed finish here in 2023. Last year, fellow rookie Robert MacIntyre bested Ryder Cup teammate Matt Fitzpatrick in a play-off to win the title in 2022.
It means of Team Europe, two of their four rookies have victories to their name over the course, presently a uniquely positive experience to draw on for players teeing up in the biennial content for the first time.
All Star Match & Junior Ryder Cup
Two other matches will be taking place at Marco Simone Golf & Country Club during the week.
In a change to the previous format, the Junior Ryder Cup will now take place over three days instead of two with Marco Simone Golf & Country Club, the Ryder Cup venue, hosting the decisive singles matches for the first time, which will also be broadcasted live on television.
Golf Nazionale, which hosted the Italian Challenge Open earlier this year, will be the venue for the first two days of foursomes and fourballs between male and female juniors from Europe and the United States on Tuesday September 26 and Wednesday September 27. The competition will then move to Marco Simone Golf & Country Club on Thursday September 28, the day before the venue hosts the Ryder Cup itself, providing an exciting curtain-raiser to golf’s greatest team contest.
In addition, well-known celebrities from the worlds of music, cinema and sport will be teeing it up on Wednesday 27th September, 2023 for the All-Star Match.
Confirmed players taking part include 24-time Grand Slam champion tennis player Novak Djokovic, footballing greats Andriy Shevchenko and Gareth Bale, Hollywood star Kathryn Newton, Formula One driver Carlos Sainz, sports caster and former Super Bowl winner Victor Cruz, Italian professional surfer Leonardo Fioravanti, and Garrett Hilbert from Dude Perfect, one of the world’s biggest sports and comedy content creators with 12m Instagram and 18m TikTok followers.
In a departure from previous matches, the All-Star match will not be a fight between Europe and the USA, but a blend of nationalities will play for teams named after, and captained by, two iconic figures in Ryder Cup history – Colin Montgomerie and Corey Pavin. Click here for the full line-up