The mind games between Team Europe and Team USA ahead of the Ryder Cup have taken to X, formerly known as Twitter, over the depth of the rough at Marco Simone Golf and Country Club.
In a video posted on the US team’s official account, a ball disappears from view as it is tossed into the rough bordering the fairway on No 16, with a caption reading: “Ryder Cup rough scouting report…”.
Just a day later, a Team Europe tweet in response showed a ball being tossed into the fringe on the same hole accompanied with a message saying: “How wide are you planning on hitting it lads?”.
Well intentioned banter though it clearly is, the competition between the two sides in Rome looks set to be as intense as ever.
When is the Ryder Cup?
This year’s Ryder Cup starts on Friday, September 29 with the final day on Sunday, October 1.
The Ryder Cup is always staged in late September or early October after the season’s major championships, and lasts for three days.
Where is it being held?
The 44th Ryder Cup will be hosted by Italy, for the first time in its history.
The venue is the Marco Simone Golf and Country Club just outside Rome, which has previously hosted the Italian Open.
Italian players to represent Europe with distinction include Costantino Rocca and the Molinari brothers, Francesco and Eduardo.
How can I watch on TV?
NBC are the broadcasters in America, where viewers will either have to stay up late or wake up very early to catch the morning sessions on Friday and Saturday. When the Ryder Cup was played in France five years ago, play began at 2.10am Eastern Time, with the afternoon sessions starting at a more civilised 7.50am Eastern Time.
No such worries for viewers in the UK, where there will be exclusive live TV coverage on Sky Sports. In 2018, the first matches went off at 7.10am BST.
What is the Ryder Cup?
One of the most-watched sporting events in the world, the Ryder Cup is distinctive for inserting competitors from an individual sport into a team environment. Aside from the golf, the team dynamics and relationships have made for compelling viewing.
Amateur golfer and businessman Samuel Ryder conceived the idea of a match between British and American professionals, with the inaugural Ryder Cup played in Massachusetts in 1927.
The match was played between an American and British or British and Irish team until 1977.
After nine USA victories and one tie in 10 meetings, Jack Nicklaus wrote a letter to Lord Derby (then president of the British PGA) suggesting Britain and Ireland merge with Continental Europe to make the Ryder Cup more competitive.
Ryder Cups became far more closely fought and dramatic by the mid-Eighties, and the extravaganza we know today was born.
Who are the Ryder Cup captains?
Europe will be led by Luke Donald, who replaced Henrik Stenson last year after the Swede was stripped of the title. The USA captain is 2007 Masters champion Zach Johnson.
Who’s on the teams?
Six players qualified automatically – the three leading players on the European points list and the next three players on the world points list. The qualification period ended on September 3.
The six leading European players are (from the European points list) Rory McIlroy, Jon Rahm, Robert MacIntyre and (from the world points list) Viktor Hovland, Tyrrell Hatton and Matt Fitzpatrick.
For his six wildcards, Luke Donald picked Justin Rose, Tommy Fleetwood, Sepp Straka, Shane Lowry, Nicolai Hojgaard and Ludvig Aberg.
European golfers who are playing on the LIV Golf tour were not permitted to qualify for the Ryder Cup. This is because European Ryder Cup players must be members of the DP World Tour (formerly known as the European Tour) and those players who signed up with LIV were forced to give up their places on the DP World Tour.
Like Europe, America use a ‘six plus six’ method for selecting the team: six players qualify automatically and captain Zach Johnson picked the remaining six himself.
The six automatic qualifiers were : Scottie Scheffler, Wyndham Clark, Brian Harman, Max Homa, Xander Schauffele and Patrick Cantlay.
But unlike Donald, Johnson was permitted to select from the LIV ranks. He selected as his wildcards Brooks Koepka, Justin Thomas, Jordan Spieth, Collin Morikawa, Sam Burns and Rickie Fowler.
How can I buy tickets?
General admission tickets for the Ryder Cup are now sold out, but more premium tickets including hospitality packages are available via the official website.
A Vista Terrace ticket for the final practice day – featuring live entertainment, DJs, private bars and food stands – will set you back about £350.
A place in the ‘Captains Club’ for Thursday to Sunday inclusive cost around £5,800 per person.
What is the Ryder Cup format?
Most golf tournaments such as the Masters and Open Championship are strokeplay, where every shot counts and the player with the lowest score after 72 holes wins.
The Ryder Cup is matchplay, meaning players compete as individuals or pairs against their opponents rather than the course. The pair or player with the lowest score wins the hole. For example, if Europe records a four on the first hole and USA a five, Europe will go one-up. If the scores are reversed on the second, the match will go back to all-square and so forth.
The match is won when the advantage is bigger than the number of holes remaining. If it finishes all-square, the match is halved.
There are two teams of 12. On Friday, there are four fourballs matches in the morning and four foursomes matches in the afternoon. This is repeated on Saturday. It means four players from each team sit out each session, with the team captain selecting his pairs and deciding who to leave out. There can be different pairs for each format.
The only time all 24 players are on the course is Sunday’s ‘singles’ when they go head-to-head in 12 direct match-ups.
Winning a match earns your team a point, with a halved match worth half-a-point to each team.
Those proficient at maths will have realised there are 28 points on offer, so both teams are aiming for 14-and-a-half points to win the Ryder Cup. A 14-14 tie would see the holders retain the trophy (i.e. the USA on this occasion)
What is the Ryder Cup schedule?
Tuesday September 27-Thursday 28: Practice days with opening ceremony on Thursday evening.
Friday September 29: Four fourballs matches in morning, four foursomes matches in afternoon.
Saturday September 30: Four fourballs matches in morning, four foursomes matches in afternoon.
Sunday October 1: 12 singles matches before closing ceremony.
What is the difference between fourballs and foursomes? We explain the Ryder Cup format and scoring system here.
What are the best of the odds?
Odds correct as of September 12
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