23 months after the end of the Whistling Straits Ryder Cup, the Rome Ryder Cup is officially here as European captain Luke Donald finalized his squad with six captain choices on Monday.
In a 30-minute TV show on The Golf Channel, Donald bought the Ryder Cup tickets a week after the America team was finalized Tommy Fleetwood, Justin Rose, Sepp Straka, Shane Lowry, Ludvig Aberg and Nicolai Hojgaard.
These six picks join the following auto qualifiers who have secured their spots on the team throughout the summer:
Rory McIlroy, Jon Rahm, Robert MacIntyre, Tyrrell Hatton, Matt Fitzpatrick, Viktor Hovland
The discourse surrounding the European team in 2023 has been all about its bottom half. Who would join the McIlroys and Rahms, who both excelled in Ryder Cup pasts but were also involved in the biggest blip in modern Ryder Cup history two years ago?
First came Justin Rose, who won the Pebble Beach Pro-Am in February, basically securing a spot and showing good form all summer. MacIntyre automatically qualified via Team Europe’s points list on Sunday, thanks largely to his second-place finish at the Scottish Open in July. Lowry has been a guarantor throughout the process for the most part, being one of the few bright spots at the 2021 Wisconsin Cup. Sepp Straka’s July included a win at the John Deere Classic and a T2 place at the Open Championship in England.
Slowly but surely, there were two final picks waiting to be hit during a final sprint on the DP World Tour. Those two winners were Hojgaard and Aberg who, unlike the American team’s captaincy picks, played some of their best golfers in the final weeks leading up to selection.
Aberg probably didn’t do that need a win at the Omega European Masters this week, but he still clinched a win, chasing back the lead to prevail 66-64 over the weekend.
The final choice may have been limited to two or three names and was far more mysterious than that of the American side. Donald had to think of Adrian Meronk, the Polish star who won the Italian Open this year on the very course that will host the Ryder Cup in three weeks time. Meronk has also shown good form lately, finishing T13 in Switzerland this week.
But in the end Donald took a different, somewhat surprising direction with Hojgaard. The 22-year-old will become the fourth rookie in this European squad thanks largely to his recent weeks. There was his T6 in Scotland, his T23 at the Open in England and a T14 at the Wyndham Championship in North Carolina before finishing 3rd —> T5 in Europe for the past two weeks.
“Part of my six picks was because I wanted to have some very in-form players,” Donald said during the telecast. “And what he’s done in the last two weeks has been very special.”
Special enough to earn the election to captain at just 22 years old. Hojgaard, Straka, Aberg and MacIntyre – the four European rookies – bring Team Europe’s average age down to 30, making it one of the younger European teams in recent memory. But they have plenty of veteran experience and the fact that the Europeans haven’t lost a Ryder Cup at home in 30 years.
The American squad they’ll be up against is almost as young and features three of this year’s big champions:
Scottie Scheffler, Xander Schauffele, Patrick Cantlay, Rickie Fowler, Wyndham Clark, Brian Harman, Brooks Koepka, Jordan Spieth, Justin Thomas, Sam Burns, Collin Morikawa, Max Homa
https://golf.com/news/final-rosters-2023-ryder-cup/ After the surprising selection, the Ryder Cup squads are set! Here’s who is on Team Europe