Ryder Cup: Rookies step into spotlight as excitement builds for golf’s greatest spectacle

Such is the intensity of the biennial event, it is, he says, when the music sounds loudest and the lights shine brightest.

All the rookies among the eight who will tee off on the first tee here in Rome on Friday morning as a foursome have been warned that it is an unprecedented sensation in golf.

Players spoke of numb limbs, while European captain Luke Donald remembers totally blowing his first shot at the Ryder Cup. This did not prove to be a bad omen, with Donald having one of the best records of any player in the annals of the event.

The stands rise row after row to form a cauldron around the first tee, with more than a quarter of a million fans expected to stream through the turnstiles over the next three days.

The opening preamble took months to develop. The players spoke about their emotions, with tears flowing in the team room echoing the spirit of Seve Ballesteros and heartfelt messages from those closest to the players. Rory McIlroy was among those surprised by his peculiar montage, voiced by his caddy and childhood friend Harry Diamond.

Donald knows the emotions of the Ryder Cup well. His approach has been to attack this from the start of the week, eliminating waterworks and hustle and bustle to allow his players to concentrate, as best as possible, on the job at hand.

Generational talent: Ludvig Aberg could have a say on the outcome of the Ryder Cup in Rome


The Englishman would make a good poker player. He revealed little about the possible pairings, maintaining the kind of cool exterior he had as a player who reached world No. 1.

He has equipped himself admirably for the cause. He inherited two vice-captains from original captain Henrik Stenson before his dethrone due to LIV Golf in Edoardo Molinari, the statistics guru whose data entry Europe considers essential to its success, and the newly married Thomas Bjorn in London this weekend and the last. victorious captain of the continent – ​​with a tattoo on his behind to show it.

But Donald added to the backstage team Jose Maria Olazabal, Seve’s long-time playing partner, and Francisco Molinari, whose five points as half of “Moliwood” – the other half being the member of Tommy Fleetwood team – were integral to Bjorn’s success in Paris.

We increasingly expect a victory for Europe. Watching Rome from Whistling Straits two years ago, such an idea seemed unthinkable after Europe suffered a record 19-9 defeat and pundits warned of a period of American dominance.

Europe certainly lacks Ryder Cup experience, but there is more than a thrill of enthusiasm about its recruits, notably Ludvig Aberg.

Slowly, the hosts got back into the race. With Rory McIlroy, Jon Rahm and Viktor Hovland, they have three of the four highest-ranked players in the world.

And yet, this is a team with an element of unfamiliarity, with notable absentees among LIV rebels Ian Poulter and Sergio Garcia, the latter of whom pleaded to find a way to get involved in the event of this year, only to receive a resounding “no”. answer.

LIV is still there on the horizon in the form of its sole representative in Brooks Koepka on Team USA, and it’s worth remembering that for all the enthusiasm for the Ryder Cup this week, the golf world finds itself always in a state of worry. peace.

Europe certainly lacks Ryder Cup experience, but there is more than a thrill of enthusiasm about its rookies, notably Ludvig Aberg, the Swede whom Donald has dubbed a “generational talent”.

This is a player who only turned professional in June and who has never played a Major, let alone a Ryder Cup. Despite this, the 23-year-old looks remarkably cool, calm and collected.

Ryder Cups are the sum of their parts. It’s often the less bright stars among the game’s stars who end up being responsible for iconic putts: the Philip Waltons, Eamonn Darcys and Paul McGinleys of this world.

In this sense, American captain Zach Johnson knows that he has the greatest strength in depth, from the first to the twelfth player, in the world order.

But these numbers are often completely arbitrary when it comes to Ryder Cups. History suggests this is Europe’s defeat, their last home defeat coming at The Belfry in 1993, when only five of their current players were still alive.

At 43, Rose is comfortably the oldest member of the European squad and describes himself as an open door to any rookies seeking advice this week. For him, the lights and music of the Ryder Cup never diminish.

standard Sport

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