DP World Tour fans know much about this week’s host Marco Simone course with the Roman venue having hosted the past three Italian Open Championships.
European Ryder Cup players – Nicolai Hogjaard (2021) and Bob MacIntyre (2022) – are past Marco Simone winners while their fellow Ryder Cup team-mates Tommy Fleetwood and Matt Fitzpatrick were runners-up in those two years.
However for many of the players, including a good few on the European Team, this week will be the first taste of formal competition on the Italian course.
So, with the 2023 Ryder Cup to get underway on Friday let’s hear what some of the players on both sides think of the golfing gladatorial venue.
“Yes, it presents a challenge. I think it presents a challenge to both teams. I think the beauty of Marco Simone is that it already has a canvas that is really, really good, and so whatever Luke and his team decide to do to it, probably only enhances that.
“The course, the grass, is extremely healthy and very pure. The greens are fantastic. I mean, I’m very confident in saying that. I haven’t been on them this week but they were really good two weeks ago. I can only imagine what they are like right now. The rough is penal. It’s very difficult. But we’ve experienced that before. We’ll experience that again, whether it’s, you know, a tournament in the States or one over here.
“Yeah, it’s going to present a challenge. I think you have to have your entire arsenal working, and I think that’s a great test”.
“I think the rough was way worse two weeks ago when we all came. They’ve definitely cut it out. They’ve taken out a lot of bushes for a lot of spectating, for a lot of walking areas. You still need to hit the fairways, but I think you’re going to need to find some momentum and make birdies.
“There’s a lot of short holes. The par fives are very gettable. A few drivable par fours are gettable, obviously, and you’re going to have some birdies that you just need to make with three wood, five irons, three wood, six irons. So there’s going to be a lot of birdies, and you’ve got to keep your foot on the pedal and keep it going.
“I think driving the ball in the fairway is going to be extremely important, and then some of the approaches tend to be a little bit on the longer side, your medium to long irons coming into the greens. So you have to be a little bit smart about where you leave the ball.
“It’s a really challenging golf course. I find it to be really challenging. I think it’ll be a good test. It’s going to be an interesting match play because I think par is a really good score around this place”
“It’s thick (rough) for sure. I always find it difficult to say courses have a certain advantage for either team. You look at the strength of both teams, it’s obviously very difficult to find advantages here and there.
“But of course, the home side will always look for those things in particular that will help them. The rough’s thick. It’s pretty penal, and I think particularly on a few holes like dogleg holes, there’s a lot of doglegs on the golf course, and I think it’s easy to try and be very aggressive or find yourself being aggressive, and I don’t think, you know, you’re not going to get away with it every shot.
“So I don’t think the course lends itself to that very much. It’s not going to give you many favours and it’s not going to give you much luck. But it’s just a demanding tee-to-green course, it really is. I think we all enjoy the setup. I think it’s very fair. I just think you have to manage your way around a lot”.
“it’s a little bit different to when I played the 2021 Italian Open. Rough is a little bit higher. But green speeds are the same and pretty similar overall. I think it’s in fantastic condition, it really is, and I’d argue better than The Italian Open, so I think that’s exciting.
“But yeah, it’s a good golf course. People say, oh, it’s a good match-play course. Normally when people say that, it doesn’t do it justice, but I actually think it’s a good golf course, too”.
“The rough is very thick, and especially out of the fairways, the blades are really thick and it’s very different than anything you see almost anywhere.
“But yeah, the ball comes out pretty slow most of the time, and so yeah, you definitely want to spend a lot of time especially around the greens, getting the feel right, and kind of, you know, preparing for that”.
“There’s a couple drivable holes than what it was before but still very similar. You’ve got to hit it in the short stuff. The rough’s brutal. But it’s no different to when I won here.
“Good golf scores will win matches, and if you keep it reasonably straight off the tee, then you’ve got a great chance”.