Europe are looking to bounce back from a record defeat at Whistling Straits in 2021, when Steve Stricker’s USA thrashed Padraig Harrington’s Europe 19-9, extending the USA’s lead in the biennial clash to 27-14. So which two men are leading the teams this time out?
Team Europe’s preparations were thrown into turmoil when Henrik Stenson was stripped of the captaincy ahead of his defection to LIV Golf. However, he was quickly replaced by former World No.1 Luke Donald for Rome, with the Englishman plotting a way to defeat a US side led by two-time Major winner Zach Johnson.
European Ryder Cup Captain - Luke Donald
Luke Donald was named as Stenson’s successor ahead of the likes of Paul Lawrie, Robert Karlsson and Thomas Bjorn.
He certainly has an impressive pedigree in the match, winning all four he played in, while he was also a vice captain at the last two matches, in 2018 under Bjorn and in 2021 under Harrington.
After confirming his team with his six wildcards, Donald's meticulous preparations for the match included a scouting trip to Marco Simone and appearances from all 12 players at the BMW PGA Championship as the Europeans look to make home advantage count and reclaim the trophy.
As well as reaching the top of the world rankings in 2011, Donald has 17 professional wins. If he leads the Europeans to victory, it will surely rank among the best of his achievements in a success-laden career.
European Ryder Cup Vice Captains
One of Donald’s first moves was to confirm Thomas Bjorn as a vice captain and his experience will surely prove invaluable.
The Dane has been part of eight European Ryder Cup teams, three times as a player, four as a vice captain, and as a successful captain in Paris in 2018. Bjorn had originally taken on the role under Stenson, but he agreed to retain the position under Donald.
After being named one of Donald's Team Europe vice-captains, the Belgian said: "My first reaction when Luke asked me was sheer joy. Every time I hear the words ‘Ryder Cup’, it takes me back to the edition I played in."
That was the infamous 2012 match dubbed the Miracle at Medinah, where the Europeans produced one of the greatest comebacks in Ryder Cup history. He'll be hoping to help inspire another famous win in Rome, this time from the sidelines.
Italy’s first Ryder Cup may have come too early for Edoardo Molinari to get the top job in his homeland, but he still has significant involvement as a vice captain.
Molinari joined brother Francesco in Europe’s 2010 Ryder Cup team at Celtic Manor, and contributed two half points in that 14½-13½ win. He'll be hoping for further success in his maiden stint as a vice captain.
Francesco Molinari joins his brother Edoardo as a vice captain, and brings an impressive history in the Ryder Cup into the role.
Molinari played on three winning teams, in 2010, 2012 and 2018 and in the latter became the first player to go 5-0-0.
Jose Maria Olazabal
A bona fide Ryder Cup legend, Olazabal played in seven Ryder Cups and struck up a formidable partnership with fellow Spaniard Seve Ballesteros on his way to an overall record of 18-8-5.
There was more to come when he captained Europe to victory in the 2012 match, and he now takes on the vice captaincy role for the first time.
USA Ryder Cup Captain - Zach Johnson
While the European camp dealt with the turmoil of losing the captain, Team USA’s skipper Zach Johnson was free to carry on planning how his team are to win the Ryder Cup on European soil for the first time in 30 years.
Johnson has previously served as a vice captain twice, under Jim Furyk in 2018 in Paris and for Steve Stricker at Whistling Straits. He also played in five Ryder Cups, losing the first four before tasting victory in the 2016 edition at Hazeltine.
While Johnson wasn't quite as inhibited by ramifications over LIV Golf players in his 12-player team, in the end he opted for just one from the circuit to represent the US - PGA Champion Brooks Koepka. He joins Jordan Spieth, Rickie Fowler, Collin Morikawa, Justin Thomas and Sam Burns as his wildcards.
Along with Scottie Scheffler, Wyndham Clark, Brian Harman, Patrick Cantlay, Max Homa and Xander Schauffele, Johnson - who won The Masters in 2017 and The Open in 2015 - will hope he has enough to see his stint as captain see him victorious in the match for a second time.
USA Ryder Cup Vice Captains
Cink played in five consecutive Ryder Cup teams between 2002 to 2010 and has an overall record of 5-7-7 having won the biennial event just once at Valhalla Golf Club in 2008.
Cink was the last of Johnson's vice captains to be named, handing him his first appearance in a leadership role at the match.
Couples appeared in five editions between 1989 and 1997, winning twice, and while this is his first time in a leadership role, he has plenty of experience as captain of the US Presidents Cup team.
Couples has taken on that role three times, winning each match, and he'll bring invaluable experience and know-how to Johnson's team.
Johnson could barely have asked for more experience after turning to Furyk as a vice captain. As well as appearing in the match nine times as a player, Furyk was also captain in 2018, although that ended in defeat at Le Golf National.
Having also experienced victory six times out of seven appearances in the Presidents Cup, there's surely very little the 53-year-old doesn't know about team competition.
Davis Love III
The 2022 winning Presidents Cup captain brings his leadership skills to the role of vice-captain at Marco Simone.
Having played for the US four times in the Ryder Cup, Love III has also captained it twice. His 2012 spell ended in defeat but he led the team to victory at Hazeltine in 2016 by an impressive 17-11.
When Johnson was named as Team USA’s captain, it was confirmed that the man he is succeeding, Steve Stricker, will be a vice captain in Italy.
The 56-year-old drew widespread praise for the way he led the team in 2021, and brings with him not only that experience, but also three appearances as a player. He also served as a vice captain in 2018.
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Mike has over 25 years of experience in journalism, including writing on a range of sports throughout that time, such as golf, football and cricket. Now a freelance staff writer for Golf Monthly, he is dedicated to covering the game's most newsworthy stories.
He has written hundreds of articles on the game, from features offering insights into how members of the public can play some of the world's most revered courses, to breaking news stories affecting everything from the PGA Tour and LIV Golf to developmental Tours and the amateur game.
Mike grew up in East Yorkshire and began his career in journalism in 1997. He then moved to London in 2003 as his career flourished, and nowadays resides in New Brunswick, Canada, where he and his wife raise their young family less than a mile from his local course.
Kevin Cook’s acclaimed 2007 biography, Tommy’s Honour, about golf’s founding father and son, remains one of his all-time favourite sports books.
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