ROME — There’s been a changing of the guard that’s taken place for both Ryder Cup teams, most notably for Europe, which is without stalwarts Sergio Garcia, Ian Poulter, Lee Westwood and Henrik Stenson — all of whom are playing LIV Golf and not welcome by the DP World Tour to be members of the Ryder Cup any longer.
Garcia, who’d played on every Ryder Cup since 1999 except for 2010, is the top points winner in European history with 28½ points with a 25-13-7 record.
Poulter always has been not only stout as a player (15-9-2, including 6-0-1 in singles) but the emotional heart and soul of the side.
“I don’t think you necessarily need large voices within the team room,’’ European captain Luke Donald said Tuesday. “You just need pretty good clarity on why you’re here and what the reason is and how you’re going to accomplish your goal. These guys are very motivated, and then they seem very unified.European Ryder Cup captain Luke Donald says his team seems “very unified” despite not having any of the past stalwarts on the team.Getty Images Jon Rahm said he has sought advice from past Ryder Cup stalwarts Sergio Garcia and Ian Poulter, who are not on the team for the first time in many years of the event.Getty Images
“To me, they seem like a great group of guys that are really getting along with each other and already creating that sort of unbreakable bond between the 12 of them. So, sometimes words don’t need to be said. There’s certain things we’ll be doing throughout this week just to make sure that we are working on being a team.”
“Every team is different. This is a team that has obviously some new faces and some guys that have been part of Ryder Cup that aren’t here. They understand that it’s their opportunity now to write kind of their story and write their history next week and start writing and creating that history for themselves.’’
Jon Rahm revealed he’s been speaking to Garcia and Poulter and gleaning Ryder Cup advice.
Rahm said he spoke to Garcia as recently as Monday.
“He did show me a lot of what to do at Whistling [Straights in 2021] and obviously in Paris [in 2018], as well,’’ Rahm said of Garcia, his fellow Spaniard.
“I did have a little bit of a chat with him, and with Poulter, as well. Not that it’s going to be easy to take on the [leadership] role that those two had both on and off the golf course, but just to hear them talk about what they thought and what they felt is obviously invaluable information.’’
Sam Burns came to Italy not only sporting a mullet but with the letters “U-S-A’’ shaved onto the side of his head.
“I had no idea he’s doing that,’’ U.S. captain Zach Johnson said. “He’s got great hair. I mean, I’d do it if I could do it. I just don’t have any hair to do it. So, they can have fun with it. I’ve got two, three, four guys who have it short on the sides and long in the front and long in the back. More power to them. Hey, if they are more comfortable, that’s what it’s about.’’
There have been a number of environmental groups targeting large sporting events around the world to protest and use them as their platform for publicity.
There was an incident at the U.S. Open tennis earlier in the month when a protester interrupted play when he glued his feet to the cement in the stadium.
Donald said there are security plans in place for this seek in the case of an incident.
“I have no idea how likely it is, but there’s a plan in place for everything,’’ he said. “The guys will be told not to interact with the [protesters], let security deal with that and then we’ll carry on.’’