No place like Rome but Europe's biggest stars need to shine

On Friday Europe will begin their mission to regain the Ryder Cup from the United States in Rome. They lost the cup by a record 19-9 margin in 2021 but have high hopes of a very different result at the Marco Simone Golf and Country Club. Metro looks at five crucial areas which could decide who will be celebrating on Sunday.

Will home advantage prove crucial again?

Seven of the last eight contests have been won by the home side, the exception being the ‘Miracle at Medinah’ in 2012 where Europe recovered from 10-4 down to pull off a remarkable victory.

Nine of the US team made a recent scouting trip to Marco Simone as they bid to secure a first win on European soil since 1993 but many of the European side have contested the Italian Open at the venue over the last three years, with Robert MacIntyre (2022) and Nicolai Hojgaard (2021) winning the title.

The rough is long and greens slower than is usual on the PGA Tour, both seen as moves to give the hosts the advantage.

Can wild cards justify their picks?

Both captains opted to have six wild cards and there was inevitably controversy as Zach Johnson selected an out-of-form Justin Thomas and Luke Donald left out Adrian Meronk, despite his Italian Open win in May.

Thomas, in particular, will be under scrutiny after being selected ahead of the likes of Keegan Bradley, Lucas Glover and Cameron Young, although he boasts a strong record in team competitions and was fifth on his most recent tour start.

Will Ludvig Aberg live up to his billing?

Aberg has made the fastest transition ever from amateur golf to the Ryder Cup after only turning professional in June, the 23-year-old winning the final qualifying event in Switzerland and being selected by Donald hours later.

He also led the BMW PGA Championship after 54 holes but struggled to a closing 76, a result which could be a blessing in disguise if it cools the hype surrounding the supremely talented Swede.

Donald turns back on LIV stars

The USA have a member of the Saudi-funded breakaway in Brooks Koepka, the five-time major winner getting a wild card after only dropping out of an automatic qualifying spot after the final event.

Ryder Cup odds

Top European points scorer

Rory McIlroy: 4/1
Jon Rahm, Viktor Hovland: 5/1
Tommy Fleetwood: 6/1
Tyrrell Hatton: 15/2

Betfair: Top USA points scorer

Scottie Scheffler: 9/2
Patrick Cantlay, Xander Schauffele: 6/1
Brooks Koepka: 13/2
Collin Morikawa: 8/1

via Betfair

Dustin Johnson – who won all five of his matches in 2021 – and Bryson DeChambeau could arguably have strengthened the US side, but it is Europe who will be without the vast experience of Ryder Cup legends Ian Poulter, Sergio Garcia and Lee Westwood.

Then again, they have shown little to suggest they would have come close to qualifying for the European team and it feels like a changing of the guard for Europe was due regardless of golf’s civil war.

Will Europe’s big guns fire?

Europe can boast three of the world’s top four – although the US do have the No.1 in Scottie Scheffler – and 2022 US Open champion Matt Fitzpatrick is also in the top ten, but that is no guarantee of success.

Fitzpatrick has lost all five of his matches to date, while Viktor Hovland halved two and lost three at Whistling Straits, where only Jon Rahm, Garcia and Tyrrell Hatton won more than a single point.

Rory McIlroy’s last two Ryder Cups have yielded three points from eight matches. Donald will need more from his star names if Europe are to regain the trophy.

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