The Ryder Cup hasn't begun yet and Rory McIlroy is already going bananas!

Set up to supposedly help Team Europe, the rough at Marco Simone took no time at all to bear its teeth to Rory McIlroy.

The Ryder Cup hasn't begun yet and Rory McIlroy is already going bananas!
The Ryder Cup hasn't begun yet and Rory McIlroy is already going bananas!

Much has been made of the penal rough at Marco Simone ahead of the 2023 Ryder Cup, and Rory McIlroy got a taste of just how tough it can be when it took him five minutes to find his tee shot on the first hole during Tuesday's practice round. 

Stood on the first tee, McIlroy sent his drive into the semi-rough on the left-hand side of the fairway, and when he arrived at where he thought it had landed, it took him five minutes to locate. 

Having run into trouble early in his round, McIlroy clearly got to grips with the rough quite quickly, though, holing a superb 30-yard flop shot from the thick fescue grass later in the day.

Then he gave us an early look of just what type of celebration we can expect.

Check out Rory's superb short game at Marco Simone!

Patrick Cantlay
Patrick Cantlay

As the players from both sides filtered into their post-round press conferences, the setup of the course was a hot topic of conversation, with Patrick Cantlay and Ludvig Aberg both admitting that the rough is best avoided.

Cantlay said:

“Yeah, the rough is tough. Try not to hit it in there, I guess. [But the course] is in really good shape. The greens are really good. We’ve just got to get comfortable, learn the golf course, and we should be good to go.”

Ludvig Aberg
Ludvig Aberg

Aberg was quick to echo the words of his American counterpart, claiming that scoring would be easier from the fairway, while suggesting that it could be an advantage for the Europeans. 

The young Swede said: 

“It’s going to be a lot easier to win points if you’re in the fairway, I feel like in general as a group we do that quite well. I do feel like it’s in favour of us, yeah.”

Home-field advantage has historically played a big part in the outcome of the Ryder Cup, with only two teams not having won when hosting the event this century.

Europe was victorious on both occasions, with the travelling team winning at both Oakland Hills in 2004 and Medinah in 2012.

Having dominated Europe at Whistling Straights in the 2021 Ryder Cup, though, the Americans will likely be feeling that now is the ideal time to set the record straight and win for the first time on European soil since 1993. 

European Captain Luke Donald has had the course set up to his wishes, but David Garland, director of Tour operations for Europe, was reluctant to confirm that it would heavily favour one side over the other.

He said:

“I know it makes a good story, but these are the best 24 players in the world. There’s only so much you can do.”

While Garland was reserved in his comments regarding the course massively favouring the Europeans, he did confirm that there have been changes made to the course, and one, in particular, will make it a very different playing experience from what the Americans are used to 

He added:

“We’re in the low 11s (Stimpmeter reading for green speeds). I think we’re about 11.3. The PGA of America never actually publish their speeds, they just call it Champion Speed, so people are always just guessing when they make comparisons. But yes, they might be slower than what the US team play week in week out.”

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