Salve to another Ryder Cup.
And for the first time ever, salve to a Ryder Cup in Italy, as Marco Simone Golf & Country Club outside of Rome is set to host another playing of the biannual event this weekend.
The United States easily won the last event in 2021 at Whistling Straits in Wisconsin, but hasn’t won a Ryder Cup in Europe since 1993.
Here are five things to know about this weekend’s Ryder Cup.
It will be a more star-studded event than usual
Both sides usually have golfers at or near the top of the world rankings, but they are also sprinkled in with players from other countries in those rankings.
But this year, the top-13 golfers in the world rankings will compete in the event. The highest-ranked golfer from somewhere not in the United States or Europe is Australian golfer Cameron Smith, who is at No. 14.
Of those top-13 golfers in the event, seven are from the U.S., while six are from Europe.
Europe will always be the favorite at home
On paper, while Europe can match the star power of the U.S. with the likes of Rory McIlroy, Jon Rahm and Viktor Hovland representing the team, the Europeans don’t appear to have the top-to-bottom depth of the Americans.
Still, Europe is the favorite for a myriad of reasons, and always will be when the event is on its soil.
One obvious reason is crowd noise that’s in its favor, but the biggest reasons go way beyond that.
First, Europe is always smart in that it hosts Ryder Cups on courses that host a regular stop on its tour. Marco Simone is no exception because it annually hosts the Italian Open. When the U.S. hosts Ryder Cups, it’s not on courses that are an annual stop on the PGA Tour.
Given that, European players often know the courses way better during Ryder Cups in Europe.
Second, the host of the Ryder Cup can tailor the course to the advantage of its squad. When in Europe, the layouts tend to be shorter and narrower with slower greens, and wayward shots are more penalized. When in the U.S., the layout is often longer and wider to take advantage of the distance advantage the Americans usually have, and greens are faster. Advantage, Europe this weekend.
Finally, the Ryder Cup is almost a matter of life and death for Europe’s tour, now known as the DP World Tour. Home Ryder Cups are the biggest financial supporter of the tour, and beating the Americans is always the best way for the tour and its players to make a name for themselves.
It’s no wonder the U.S. hasn’t won a Ryder Cup in Europe in three decades.
Can U.S. team back up talk after 2021?
Back in 2021 when the U.S. earned a rare annihilation of Europe in Wisconsin, Patrick Cantlay proclaimed on the Sunday morning before the singles matches that this was going to be a new era of U.S. success at the Ryder Cup.
Cantlay said the core of the American team is young and grown up together and ready to take the Ryder Cup more seriously than their predecessors.
“This is definitely different,” Cantlay said in an ESPN article back in 2021. “We have a lot of young guys, and I think they are going to be on teams for a long time. Everybody gets along. The atmosphere is light, but I know everyone has that killer instinct, and we are going to bring that to future cups.”
Cantlay, Collin Morikawa, Brooks Koepka, Justin Thomas, Jordan Spieth, Xander Schauffele, Scottie Scheffler all return from 2021 and no doubt form a nice core.
But proclaiming future dominance is easy when you are clearly the better team, are playing on a home course perfectly tailored to your style and barely have any European fans in attendance due to travel restrictions caused by COVID, as all was the case in 2021.
It’ll be a whole different ballgame for the core group of Americans being in unfamiliar and more hostile territory. We’ll see if the Americans can rise up to a challenge they have never faced as they try to win in the Ryder Cup in Europe for the first time since 1993.
This unknown player could become known rather quickly
While there are many well-known golfers on both sides, each Ryder Cup usually introduces the world to a player who is on the cusp of stardom and should be a fixture on Ryder Cup teams for years.
With that in mind, start learning the name Ludvig Aberg.
A 23-year-old from Sweden, Aberg was chosen as a captain’s pick by Luke Donald even though he only has been on the professional ranks for a few months.
As is the case with many European golfers, Aberg has deep ties to the United States because of college golf. Aberg starred at Texas Tech, twice earning the Ben Hogan Award as the nation’s best college player.
Young, hungry, full of talent and playing in front of an adoring home crowd, don’t be surprised if Aberg introduces himself as one of the game’s next great players this weekend.
Get ready to set DVRs
Whenever the Ryder Cup is in Europe, the morning matches are already over by the time Americans wake up for school and work.
The afternoon matches are then held in the morning U.S. time.
The good news is that football viewing shouldn’t be affected on Sunday, given the event should wrap up by the time 1 p.m. ET when NFL games kick off.
Prediction: Europe 15, U.S. 13