'Brutal' Marco Simone 'The Most Demanding Physically' Of Any Ryder Cup Course

USA captain Zach Johnson and vice- captain Stewart Cink say players will be happier than usual to sit out a session with Marco Simone the most demanding Ryder Cup course they've ever experienced

Zach Johnson with the Ryder Cup
(Image credit: Getty Images)

USA captain Zach Johnson and vice-captain Stewart Cink say a “brutal” Marco Simone Golf Club is the “the most demanding physically” of any Ryder Cup they’ve been involved in.

Although both USA and Europe have their star players that they’d like to feature as often as possible, it sounds unlikely anyone will be able to play all five sessions due to the physical demands of playing the course in Rome.

For players, and also their caddies, getting around the ups and downs of Marco Simone in what could be some high temperatures will take a physical toll, and that will play a big factor in how Johnson and Luke Donald will have to rotate their pairings.

Ahead of the Fortinet Championship, Johnson spoke about the problems of telling players when they’re not involved in a Ryder Cup session.

“At this point in this captainship the worst part of my job is sitting guys,” said Johnson. “I'd like to take 25 guys over there to play, we can't do that, and I'd like for all the guys to play every session, can't do that either, but that's the way it is and everybody knows that.”

Cink, though, added that Marco Simone being so tough will solve some of those issues, as players themselves will not fancy playing it too many times ahead of the crucial Sunday singles.

“I think the golf course is going to solve some of that problem because it's so hilly and the temperature could be pretty hot, too,” said Cink.

“I think guys are going to be happy to probably rest. There's not going to be a lot of disappointment for not playing.

“It's probably the most demanding physically of any Cup course I've ever seen that I've been a part of.”

See more

Johnson agreed when asked if it was the toughest course he’d seen, adding: “No question. In my time, for sure. It's a brutal walk. Then, compounding that with heat.” 

While European players have taken part in the Irish Open and then this week’s BMW PGA Championship, Johnson feels his side have an advantage of being more rested with the majority of his team taking it easy.

“The bottom line is a lot - for the most part, the majority of the team played so much golf in July and August that they need a break,” said Johnson.

“Your body needs a break. It's unique that we've had a month off from the Tour Championship to the actual Cup. I can't recall that ever happening in my time.

Stewart Cink and Zach Johnson

(Image credit: Getty Images)

“Maybe a week here, maybe a week there, so that rest I think is actually probably better than actually competing off the Tour Championship a lot.

“Sounds like the European team might be playing a little bit more because of their schedule and the way it lays out, which is fine. Our guys will be rested. 

“That was part of the joy and the purpose of our practice round trip is to let those guys see the course so that way, when we get there that week, they don't have to force it and push themselves to get their feet on the grounds that much because they already know kind of what to expect so they can kind or prepare accordingly.

“Friday can't come any quicker. I mean, seems like you get there and Friday just takes forever to get there, but when it's there, it's a lot of golf in a short amount of time. Personally, I think rest is great.”

Paul Higham

Paul Higham is a sports journalist with over 20 years of experience in covering most major sporting events for both Sky Sports and BBC Sport. He is currently freelance and covers the golf majors on the BBC Sport website.  Highlights over the years include covering that epic Monday finish in the Ryder Cup at Celtic Manor and watching Rory McIlroy produce one of the most dominant Major wins at the 2011 US Open at Congressional. He also writes betting previews and still feels strangely proud of backing Danny Willett when he won the Masters in 2016 - Willett also praised his putting stroke during a media event before the Open at Hoylake. Favourite interviews he's conducted have been with McIlroy, Paul McGinley, Thomas Bjorn, Rickie Fowler and the enigma that is Victor Dubuisson. A big fan of watching any golf from any tour, sadly he spends more time writing about golf than playing these days with two young children, and as a big fair weather golfer claims playing in shorts is worth at least five shots. Being from Liverpool he loves the likes of Hoylake, Birkdale and the stretch of tracks along England's Golf Coast, but would say his favourite courses played are Kingsbarns and Portrush.