The captain’s picks have been made, the teams are all set and the countdown to the Ryder Cup, which begins Sept. 29 in Rome at Marco Simone Golf & Country Club, has begun in earnest.
In a little more than a week, 12 of the best players from both Europe and the United States will square off in the biennial bash as the Euros look to win the Cup back and continue their dominance at home.
Ahead of the 44th edition of the Ryder Cup, European stalwarts Jon Rahm and Matt Fitzpatrick and European Ryder Cup Captain Luke Donald participated in a wide-ranging Q&A through a partnership with Rolex that covered what makes this event so special to them as well as a primer on the course and more.
Q: After attending the 1997 Ryder Cup in Spain, your whole family took up golf. Is the Ryder Cup an event that allows you to reflect on your successes and golfing career?
JR: I actually spoke to my father recently about this and said: “What would have happened if the 1997 Ryder Cup did not take place in Spain?” That was the sole reason that my father started playing golf so I probably would not have been playing golf myself and do not know where I would be now.
The Ryder Cup event represents a lot for me. It is one of the main reasons why I am where I am today. The 1997 Ryder Cup was the spark that ignited my passion for the game. I cannot quantify or put into words how much it means but it is hugely important for me.
I think the Ryder Cup is also the biggest marketing tool that golf has. It is the biggest event that we have, by far. It is the one time that some of the best players in the world are not playing for themselves and instead come together to create what, on paper, would otherwise be an exhibition. Both teams always fight to the very end because of how much it matters to all of us. It is such a unique competition. Even if your team loses, it is still extremely fun and special to have been a part of it. It is the closest that us golfers will ever feel to what other sportsmen and women experience when playing in sold-out stadiums.
Q: Tell us about your experience playing for Team Europe at the 2018 Ryder Cup. Did your first experience of the unique team competition live up to expectations?
JR: In 2009, I was playing in the European Young Masters which…