Never has such a rich cast: fifteen of the top sixteen in the ranking are expected behind number 1
The Gods of golf are right there at your fingertips. They sign autographs, smile, joke. They almost look…human. In no other sport can you be so close, there are no railings or gates. There is only a small rope that keeps the audience at a distance, but when the players make mistakes – sometimes it happens to them too – the ball flies over their heads, into the meadows, under the trees. And the people are there, just a few centimeters away, all you need to do is reach out to touch them. Yesterday Europe and the United States officially opened the week of the Ryder Cup and the 24 phenomena called to represent the two continents, and to compete for that small cup just 40 cm high, played a few holes each, the others will do so today. Then they divided their time between the driving range, approach area and putting green. And people followed them everywhere. In every corner there are stands or stands to observe them better. From the one on hole 1 as tall as a 5-storey building to the smaller ones behind the driving range. Everyone must see clearly, everyone has the right to feel like they are participating, almost protagonists.
giants of golf
Yesterday Marco Simone looked like Olympus. In nearby Rome there are temples dedicated to Venus and Mars, Jupiter and Neptune, while here in Guidonia all the mythology of modern golf has gathered. There are the top 12 players in the world and 15 of the top 16: only the 13th is missing, but he is Australian and therefore couldn’t be there because he has nothing to do with the Ryder. The worst ranked American team in the world ranking is 25th and is Rickie Fowler; in Europe there is Ludvig Aberg who is number 80, but he is not too wrong in saying that he can become a star, the strongest of all. And thus join Scottie Scheffler – the best in recent weeks -, Rory McIlroy, Jon Rahm, Jordan Spieth, Brooks Koepka, Justin Thomas and Justin Rose who have already been. Seven world number 1s all together in Italy. And if you really want to exaggerate, you have to remember that Luke Donald, the captain of Europe, was also at the top of the world rankings. To say that it has never happened is clear, as it is clear that it will not happen again, at least in the next few years. In Italy there are no Majors and our Open does not have the strength to attract players, especially Americans, of this level. So we have to enjoy them to the fullest, watch them shoot, putt, breathe. It’s all a spectacle, even the easiest shots made on the driving range. Yesterday Europe took a group photo, the USA will take the photo this morning. Then everyone on the pitch, four at a time, with pairings that we could easily find on Friday and Saturday too when the Ryder is played in pairs before the singles on Sunday.
Long live Italy
Europe presented itself like this: first group with Fleetwood, Straka, Lowry, McIlroy. Then Rahm, Hovland, Hatton and Aberg. Finally Fitzpatrick, Rose, MacIntyre and Hojgaard. The USA settled with this lineup: Spieth, Cantlay, Schauffele and Thomas. Then Morikawa, Harman, Fowler and Homa. Finally Scheffler, Koepka, Clark and Burns. And the excitement immediately skyrocketed. Schauffele confessed to being elated. “It’s my first time in Italy, even the first time in Europe. I’ve never played overseas: the fans are fantastic, the first tee shot was beautiful. Marco Simone is different from any course he has ever played on.” Jordan Spieth also wanted to pay homage to Italy: “I love football and therefore I expect football support, we players would really enjoy it”. Europe has the great task of erasing the very heavy defeat of two years ago, the worst in recent history, when it ended 19-9 for the USA at Whistling Straits. And above all we must do everything to not allow the Americans to win at home, the last time was in 1993, at Belfry. To achieve this we have the world number 2 (McIlroy), number 3 (Rahm) and number 4 (Hovland) in the team, but all attention is on Ludvig Aberg. Swede, 23 years old, professional for just 3 months, phenomenon among amateurs and already winner on the European Tour at the beginning of September. Too much pressure for a guy who has never even played a Major? “I have dreamed of being part of Team Europe since I was little, but I only became certain of it at the end of the summer. It’s a dream come true. I’m calm because one of the great skills I have is knowing how to accept life: I let things go as they should, this is my way of being. I don’t get angry easily.” Yes, there is also an ice Swede among the Gods of golf.
September 27 – 11.10am
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