- The Ryder Cup course in Rome will feature a punishing track and searing heat
- Europe captain Luke Donald has warned his stars to expect greater rotation
- Donald insists his players understand they need to stay fresh throughout
Luke Donald has warned his Ryder Cup stars they might have to tolerate being rested for key sessions as he attempts to tackle the brutal physical challenge of the Marco Simone course in Rome at the end of this month.
The 7,300-yard track, while not excessively long, is loaded with punishing undulations and the match against the US will be contested in heat forecasted to top 30 degrees.
American vice-captain Stewart Cink, a five-time Cup veteran, recently described the layout as the ‘most demanding physically of any Cup course I’ve ever seen’ and it was a sentiment shared by European players and caddies after their reconnaissance trip last Monday.
It has forced Donald to contemplate greater rotation than usual among his 12-strong team, with the reduced chance of golfers competing in all five of the sessions across the three days, not counting practise rounds.
Europe’s captain has also raised the possibility of pooling caddies, and thereby breaking up touring partnerships, meaning some of the bagmen would not need to undertake the five-mile walk twice in a day while lugging huge bags.
Luke Donald has warned his Ryder Cup stars they won’t all play the full five rounds in Rome
Rory McIlroy (L) and Tyrell Hatton (R) are among the players in good form ahead of the tournament
Donald said: ‘It is something we’ve talked about and discussed with a few players who you’d think would play five and we’ve had conversations with them about what they might be expecting for the week.
‘Adrenaline is a big thing in the Ryder Cup so if you asked them to play five they would want to play five. But you’ve got to think about Sunday and the singles because that is 12 points out of the 28. You want some freshness, it is going to be a tiring golf course, could be quite warm.
‘Those are things that we’ve constantly thought about over the past few months and we’ll have to decide and make some of those decisions based on play on Friday and Saturday. It is a possibility that some guys who are used to playing five might not play five.
‘They understand the rationale behind it.’
The Marco Simeone course in Rome is loaded with punishing undulations with players also bracing for searing temperatures
Europe has tended to field more players in all five sessions than the Americans in recent history.
Across the past five matches, they have relied on a golfer to contest each of the two fourballs and two foursomes clashes on 14 occasions prior to the Sunday singles, compared to eight on the US side.
Meanwhile, Donald has declared himself ‘very happy’ with his team’s form, after Tyrrell Hatton, Jon Rahm, Viktor Hovland, Tommy Fleetwood, Rory McIlroy, Ludvig Aberg and Sepp Straka signed off before Rome with top-10 finishes at the BMW PGA Championship.
He said: ‘Watching the leaderboard there were six in the top six at one point and another few nearby. I’m very happy with their form.’
TEAM EUROPE RYDER CUP TEAM
*Denotes captain’s pick
- Rory McIlroy (Northern Ireland)
- Jon Rahm (Spain)
- Viktor Hovland (Norway)
- Tyrrell Hatton (England)
- Robert MacIntyre (Scotland)
- Matt Fiztpatrick (England)
- Tommy Fleetwood (England) *
- Justin Rose (England) *
- Shane Lowry (Republic of Ireland)*
- Ludvig Aberg (Sweden) *
- Sepp Straka (Austria) *
- Nicolaj Hojgaard (Denmark) *