Luke Donald’s entire European squad headed to Marco Simone Golf Club on Monday for a pre-Ryder Cup team practice session, ahead of the 12-strong field at the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth; Watch both events live this month on Sky Sports Golf
By Ali Stafford in Wentworth
Last updated: 09/13/23 4:44 p.m.
Rory McIlroy claims he moved to the front of Ludvig Åberg’s ‘bandwagon’ after being beaten by the rising star during the European team’s trip to Rome ahead of the Ryder Cup.
Åberg was named one of six captain’s picks by Luke Donald for the biennial competition, live from September 29 to October 1 on Sky Sportsthe Swede having won the Omega European Masters in his ninth participation as a professional.
The entire European Ryder Cup team joined Donald and his vice-captains for a team trip to Marco Simone Golf Club on Monday, before all 12 players travel to the UK to compete in the BMW Championship DP World Tour PGA at Wentworth.
Europe’s Ryder Cup stars are all in action at the BMW PGA Championship, the flagship event of the DP World Tour calendar, with extensive live coverage on Sky Sports Golf.
Åberg revealed in his pre-tournament press conference that he had teamed up with Viktor Hovland to claim a 3&2 best-ball victory over Tommy Fleetwood and Rory McIlroy, who praised the potential impact of Swede in the European team.
“They probably exceeded their (expectations),” McIlroy admitted of Aberg. “Everyone says what a great golf ball driver he is. The ball striking is incredible. I’ve been really impressed with his wedge game and how he can kind of control his trajectory with shorter clubs. I was on the bandwagon before, but definitely at the forefront now.”
Team Europe captain Luke Donald reveals why Ludvig Aberg was selected among his six picks to complete his Ryder Cup roster.
Åberg, who will play alongside Hovland and McIlroy for the first two rounds of his BMW PGA Championship debut, was delighted to have the opportunity to play with the Northern Irishman for the first time.
“His (McIlroy’s) CV speaks for itself and what he did and what he did for the match is pretty incredible,” Åberg said. “To see it first hand, it was pretty cool. I’m sure he’s going to do well (at the Ryder Cup).
Who else has played together?
Shane Lowry came out in four balls with Justin Rose, Robert MacIntyre and Sepp Straka on Monday, Lowry and Straka have since teamed up again over the first two days at Wentworth.
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Jon Rahm enjoyed a practice round alongside Tyrrell Hatton, having played together in Friday Four Balls during the 2021 contest, with Matt Fitzpatrick and Nicolai Hojgaard completing that group.
Rahm will start with Hojgaard and Hatton for the first two rounds of the BMW PGA Championship, while Fitzpatrick has been placed in an all-British group with Rose and MacIntyre.
DP World Tour Golf Live
September 14, 2023, 8:30 a.m.
How tough is Marco Simone GC?
Course conditions in Rome were widely discussed ahead of the BMW PGA Championship, with McIlroy among those impressed by the layout but wary of the challenges Marco Simone GC could offer players.
“In terms of course condition, I don’t know if I’ve ever seen better fairways,” McIlroy said. “I think the fairways are so pure and the greens are in great condition and everything. It’s been a hot summer there and the course is in fantastic condition.”
Team Europe captain Luke Donald explains his Ryder Cup selections and how he plans to win back the famous trophy.
McIlroy also stressed the importance of accuracy off the tee, telling reporters: “You miss the fairways, then you’re going to have a hard time hitting the greens. I think there’s some holes, there’s some pars -four courts where if you hit driver off the tee and miss the fairways you should be punished.
“There are a few longer holes where the rough maybe isn’t as severe and you can at least put a seven or eight iron in there and move it forward a little bit down the fairway.”
DP World Tour Golf Live
September 14, 2023, 12:00 p.m.
Rahm echoed McIlroy’s comments, adding: “It’s penal. It’s difficult. You have to put the ball in the fairway. It’s not the longest course in golf, is it , so it’ll make you think a little if they keep it that way.” “
A perfect match play venue?
Viktor Hovland is one of several European players to have previously played at the Ryder Cup venue at a DS Automobiles Italian Open, although he admitted he relished the opportunity to tackle the course in a match format – play.
“I still don’t think it’s a stroke-play event or an amazing golf course, but for match-play I think it’s going to be super exciting because there’s a good mix of easy holes on which you can make birdies and you can make eagles.
“There are also some extremely difficult holes where if you make a par, you could win the hole. So, I think it makes for a really good Ryder Cup, because you’re not going to see too many holes split in two.
The 12-player Ryder Cup team led by European team captain Luke Donald is complete: meet the golfers looking to win back the trophy.
“I feel like there’s going to be a lot of movement and I think that makes the Ryder Cup exciting. The shots required are also very demanding. You have to drive it well off the tee, otherwise it’s going to be very, very difficult.
“Certain pin placements also allow the iron shots to be really close if you hit a good shot, and if you miss it you’re going to have a very difficult up and down swing. I think a lot of things can happen and that nothing is over until it is over.”
Watch the BMW PGA Championship all week long live on Sky Sports. Live coverage begins on Thursday with featured groups from 8.30am before full coverage from midday on Sky Sports Golf.
Live coverage of Ryder Cup opening day begins on Friday September 29 from 6am on Sky Sports Golf, while live programming begins on Monday September 25. Stream the PGA Tour, DP Tour, Ryder Cup and more with NOW.