Donald confirms Marco Simone long rough to be in place for Ryder Cup

Fatiha Betscher

Luke Donald in Italy. (Photo by Stuart Franklin/Getty Images)

European Ryder Cup captain Luke Donald confirmed that the long rough in place at this week’s Italian Open host venue of Marco Simone will be the vital key course feature for next year’s 2023 Ryder Cup.

Those who contested last year’s Italian Open course to the north-east of Rome have spoken of their surprise in seeing the rough so high for this year’s hosting of the premier Italian event.

Rory McIlroy, who’s making his Italian Open debut this week, spoke following his opening round of the intention of setting-up the course in a manner that would ideally suit the Europeans and hopefully cancel out the American bombers.


“The tee shots have been brought in and the rough has been brought in on either side so you’re hitting into smaller windows, so that will be the strategy in setting-up the course next year,” he said.

Scotland’s Scott Jamieson, who shared eighth place a year ago, remarked: “That was one of the first things that struck me in arriving here earlier in the week, just how much tighter the course was and with the rough so much higher than a year ago.”

Now Donald, after posting a second round 67 that including a career first of playing a wrong ball, has pretty much rubber-stamped the rough we see in place this week, declaring it will be a key feature of the Marco Simone course in 53 weeks’ time.

“I think the idea is to keep it pretty high. We want to put a premium on hitting the fairways,” said Donald.

“I don’t think it will be too much different, a couple fairway lines might be even a little bit tighter but I think the rough — the rough here, it’s a different type of grass. It’s kind of a thick blade, so it doesn’t need to be too, too heavy to make it tough.

“But it won’t be too different. We obviously want to play similar conditions to what we played this year.”

Disappointing for Donald, in a second round of eight birdies, was what transpired at the 16th hole or the seventh of his round where he walked off with a horror triple-bogey ‘7’.

“I did something I don’t think I’ve ever done in golf,” Donald admitted. “I hit the wrong ball on 16. Which was, yeah, frustrating. I hit a poor tee shot left in the rough. The spotter kind of went straight to the ball and I just assumed it was mine and mine was a few feet left of it. Yeah, it was a costly 7.

“But I made a lot of birdies out there and hit a lot of good shots and overall, pretty pleased with my game. Disappointing finish to bogey 8 and 9 but there was a lot of good in there.”

With scores of 69 and 68, the Englishman was still well-placed at five-under.

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