It will be tough to give Europe big advantage on Ryder Cup course – Luke Donald

By Sports Desk May 03, 2023

Europe captain Luke Donald admits he will find it hard to give his side a significant advantage with the way he sets up this year’s Ryder Cup course.

As the home skipper, Donald is allowed to dictate how Marco Simone Golf Club will play for this year’s contest against the United States as Europe look to bounce back from the record defeat at Whistling Straits in 2021.

The former world number one and some of his potential team members also have the opportunity to contest this week’s Italian Open at the venue on the outskirts of Rome, with Scotland’s Robert MacIntyre defending the title he won last year.

“Since playing it last year, we looked at a few different fairway lines, bringing in a few fairways a little bit tighter,” Donald told a pre-event press conference.

“The template for European golf is to have a slightly narrower golf course, a little bit more rough, not greens that get too fast because that’s obviously what the US guys are always used to.

“There’s not a whole lot we have changed but we have added a couple of bunkers to create opportunities for better driving. I feel like Europe has good drivers of the golf ball.

“I think it’s a fun golf course in terms of there’s potentially two or three driveable par fours. Statistically, driving is a good part of our games so to have those in there could give us a slight advantage.

“But there’s only so much you can do. The players are very evenly matched when it comes to statistics.

“You’re just trying to find little potential differences that you can capitalise on but the standard of play is very close these days. It’s hard to gain a big advantage.”

MacIntyre defeated US Open champion Matt Fitzpatrick in a play-off to win his second DP World Tour title last September, the left-hander making a birdie on the first extra hole after he and Fitzpatrick had finished tied on 14 under par, a shot ahead of Victor Perez.

Pre-tournament favourite Rory McIlroy, who was within a shot of the lead until hitting his tee shot on the 16th into the water, finished fourth on 12 under.

That was just the second qualifying event for the Ryder Cup and although MacIntyre has since fallen outside the automatic places, the world number 91 is trying to play down the potential significance of a successful title defence.

“I worried about that for the last Ryder Cup, worried about what could be,” he said. “This year, I’m not worried at all about what could be. What will be will be and I’ll be going out there to play golf because you enjoy it.

“This week is not going to define my season. I get it’s on the golf course where the Ryder Cup is going to be. Course set up is pretty similar to last year. I did it on that golf course.

“But, to be honest, I am not worried just about this week and there is so much golf to be played and it’s not going to define the season, good or bad.

“We’ll just keep marching on and working hard and hopefully we make it there come September.”

Related items

  • US Open: Scheffler rues 'frustrating day' as Morikawa makes surge on moving day at Pinehurst US Open: Scheffler rues 'frustrating day' as Morikawa makes surge on moving day at Pinehurst

    Scottie Scheffler was left to rue "another frustrating day" at the US Open on Saturday, when Collin Morikawa found form on moving day at Pinehurst.

    World number one Scheffler struggled once again in North Carolina, carding a one-over 71 to drop down to six-over par after the third day.

    The two-time Masters champion has now shot four consecutive rounds over par for the first time in his professional career and catching the likes of Matthieu Pavon, Bryson Dechambeau and Tony Finau appears unlikely.

    "Another frustrating day," Scheffler said on Sky Sports after his putter went cold once more. "Today was a day where I thought I played a lot better than my score.

    "I'm having a lot of trouble reading these greens. I had a lot of putts today where I felt like I hit it really good. I looked up and they were not going the way I thought they were going to go."

    Morikawa, in stark contrast, went on a hot streak with his putter and finished with a four-under 66 to move back to level par, sneaking within touching distance of the top 10.

    The two-time major champion still has serious ground to make up to catch the leading trio on Sunday, with Ludvig Aberg, Patrick Cantlay, Corey Conners and Tyrrell Hatton all chasing at the top as well.

    "If I play the way I did today, who knows what could happen," Morikawa said. "This course is only going to get tougher. 

    "I know it's not going to be easy. Today was not easy by any means. I just put it in the right spot, kept the ball in front of me, really just played very simple golf."

    Rory McIlroy remains in with the contending pack, aiming to end a 10-year wait for major success, but may be concerned if countryman Shane Lowry's words are anything to go by.

    Lowry stayed on five-over for the tournament after battling through "torture" from the Pinehurst No.2 course, offering a warning to all competing this weekend.

    "It's torture out there, honestly it's absolute mental torture," Lowry said. "That's the best level par I've ever shot in my life.

    "Every single shot you have, even when you hit a good shot the putts you have, it's brutally difficult. It's not much crack out there, to be honest.

    "The wind's in a different direction so some of the par fours are really long. You really just have to manage your way well around there and I did a great job today."

  • US Open: Leader Aberg trying to stay 'disciplined and patient' US Open: Leader Aberg trying to stay 'disciplined and patient'

    Ludvig Aberg emphasised the importance of staying "disciplined and patient" after he took the sole lead of the US Open on Friday.

    Aberg heads into the weekend with a one-shot advantage after carding a one-under 69, backing up an impressive 66 in his first round to leave him five under par at the top of the standings.

    It leaves Aberg in a great position to become the second US Open debutant to win the tournament and the first since Francis Ouimet in 1913.

    To achieve that, though, Aberg says he must remain calm, telling Sky Sports: "It's hard, but it's not supposed to be easy.

    "It's what we expect coming into a US Open, even though it's my first one.

    "I've had a lot of good discussions with my caddie Joe about course management and about trying to stay disciplined and patient.

    "It's not easy, but I feel like we've done a great job of that so far."

    Patrick Cantlay and Rory McIlroy held the joint lead heading into day two after both carding five-under 65s on Thursday.

    However, McIlroy shot a disappointing 72 for his second round, while Cantlay's 71 leaves him as one of three players one shot behind Aberg, alongside Bryson DeChambeau and Thomas Detry.

    The soaring temperatures have proved testing conditions for players and are expected to continue over the rest of the tournament.

    Cantlay is predicting a difficult final two rounds, though he also said he was happy with the position he is in.

    "I think this golf course is going to play very challenging over the weekend, especially with the forecast that we have," Cantlay told reporters.

    "So I think being smart and being patient, it's inevitable there's going to be some mistakes made, but that's just part of playing a US Open."

  • US Open: Woods 'may or may not' have played last US Open after missing cut US Open: Woods 'may or may not' have played last US Open after missing cut

    Tiger Woods hinted that he may have played his final US Open after failing to make the cut on Friday.

    Woods shot three over in his second round having carded a four-over 74 on Thursday to leave him at seven over par, two shots off the cut line.

    It means Woods has now either failed to make the cut or withdrawn from six of his last nine major tournaments, and at 48-years-old and having faced a host of injury problems, it appears the 15-time major champion's glittering career is nearing its conclusion.

    After Friday's disappointing exit from the major he has won three times previously, Woods insinuated that it may well have been the last time he plays in the US Open.

    Woods told reporters: "In order to win a golf tournament, you have to make the cut. I can't win the tournament from where I'm at, so it certainly is frustrating. 

    "I thought I played well enough to be up there in contention. It just didn't work out.

    "As far as my last Open Championship or US Open Championship, I don't know what that is. It may or may not be.

    "I've only got one more tournament this season. Even if I win the British Open, I don't think I'll be in the [FedEx Cup] playoffs. [There is] just one more event and then I'll come back whenever I come back."

© 2023 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.