Wednesday, November 29, 2023

Ryder Cup notebook: Rory McIlroy, early success for Europe, Novak Djokovic, Gareth Bale and more! -Dlight News

Who will impress for Team Europe in Rome? Can Luke Donald’s side regain the trophy against Zach Johnson’s American team? Watch the opening day on Friday from 6am on Sky Sports Golf, with the first tee at 6.35am

Will Rory McIlroy wear a hat for Team Europe? Which celebrities struggled in the all-star match? A look at the latest storylines from Rome ahead of the Ryder Cup, live from Friday on Sky Sports..

Hatless Rory

The sight of Rory McIlroy playing without a cap on has become synonymous with recent Ryder Cups, prompting many to suggest he should go capless more often.

I’m reliably informed, from the man himself, that at Marco Simone GC this time around, however, it will be cap on for all three days.

Rory McIlroy will play alongside Tommy Fleetwood on the opening day of the Ryder Cup in Rome

Rory McIlroy will play alongside Tommy Fleetwood on the opening day of the Ryder Cup in Rome

On Tuesday’s practice round, Rory played sans cap and found the Roman heat far too energy-sapping. So sadly, unlike in Paris five years ago and Hazeltine two years before that, those famous curly locks will be covered up this time.

Europe’s youngsters shine

It had been 17 years since Europe had claimed the Junior Ryder Cup until Stephen Gallacher’s team not only won, but did so emphatically, delivering a 20.5-9.5 pasting of their American counterparts.

Given that the likes of McIlroy, Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas have all teed it up in the Ryder Cup’s junior edition, it stands to reason that some of the young guns responsible for this year’s landslide victory will go on to play on both Ryder Cup and Solheim Cup teams of the future, as well as lifting major championships.

Extra demands on Team Europe

One player said to me while walking with him during Thursday’s final practice round that it was an exhausting week before a ball had even been hit.

Ryder Cups have become such enormous events that the build-up is dominated by players being pulled in every direction. As well as practice rounds, there’s gala dinners, countless media commitments, team meetings and the opening ceremony.

Especially given the temperatures forecast for this weekend, conserving energy – both physically and mentally – will be key and I find it hard to see any player going all five sessions.

Mixed fortunes for celebrity stars

On Wednesday, we saw what has now become the traditional curtain-raiser to the main event – the celebrity all-star match.

We saw Gareth Bale giving an impromptu lesson to Novak Djokovic on the driving range. And it seemed to do the trick!

Despite being only a 14-handicapper, and with the added pressure of Justin Thomas watching on, having just dashed onto the first tee to greet the 24-time Grand Slam winner, Djoko piped his opening tee shot straight down the middle of the first fairway to rapturous applause.

Poor Andriy Shevchenko though, who (apologies for the shameless humble brag) I’ve actually played with in the past and therefore know is an extremely accomplished golfer, hit a wild block which landed on a neighbouring fairway.

Still preferable to Carlos Sainz’s effort, a low snap hook which left spectators ducking for cover!

What’s next?

Friday’s Ryder Cup action begins at 6.35am BST, with foursomes matches going off in 15-minute intervals and the last going out at 7.20am. The fourballs action is then set to begin at 12.25pm.

Timing remain the same for Saturday’s sessions, with all 24 players then involved in the Sunday singles. The opening match starts at 10.35am UK time on Sunday.

Who will win the 2023 Ryder Cup? Watch exclusively live this week on Sky Sports! Live coverage from opening day begins on Friday from 6am, ahead of the first tee time at 6.35am. Stream the Ryder Cup and more for £21 a month for six months with NOW.

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