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Ryder Cup - Golf: How Europe could line up

Qualifying for Ryder Cup 2023 is underway for the European side and there could be a different look about the challengers with previous stalwarts being replaced.

Lee Westwood, Sergio Garcia, Ian Poulter and Paul Casey have a combined 33 Ryder Cup appearances, with the quartet being integral to Europe for well over a decade now.

However, the four in question have been slowly slipping down the rankings, so they will find it hard to automatically qualify, while it is not yet known whether their defection to LIV Golf will make them ineligible to play in the biennial men's golf competition.

Europe's Ryder Cup 2023 captain Luke Donald is unlikely to offer one of his six captain's picks to that quartet, meaning fresh blood will be brought into the team as the challengers look to bounce back from the record 19-9 defeat at Whistling Straits in 2021.

WhatRyder Cup 2023
WhereMarco Simone Golf Club, Rome, Italy
When29th September 2023 - 1st October 2023
How to watchSky Sports
OddsUSA 8/15, Europe 15/8, Tie 12/1

Certainties

A lot can happen in golf during the qualification period but there are certain individuals that are almost guaranteed a place on the team, whether that is taking one of the six automatic positions or one of the six captain's picks.

Leading the way will be Northern Irishman Rory McIlroy, who is set to feature in his seventh Ryder Cup having made his competition debut in 2010 at Celtic Manor Resort.

The world number two has ended up on the winning side four times (2010, 2012, 2014 and 2018) and the losing team twice (2016 and 2021), while his overall record stands at 12-12-4.

McIlroy has won twice on the PGA Tour in 2022 and became the first three-time winner of the FedEx Cup, while he also recorded top-10 finishes in all four Majors.

Set to join the Northern Irishman in the team is Spaniard Jon Rahm, who was a rare positive for Europe in the 2021 demolition as he took 3.5 points from his five matches to finish as his side's top points scorer.

The 2021 US Open champion's fiery character makes him perfect for the Ryder Cup and he, along with McIlroy, will be expected to play all five matches and drive the challengers on.

Irishman Shane Lowry made his Ryder Cup debut last year and, while that was a difficult event to be a rookie in, that experience will have done him the world of good and he will be eager to play a major part next year in Italy.

The 2019 Open champion made a perfect start to qualifying with victory at the BMW PGA Championship and it would be a huge surprise if he were to miss out on a place in the 12-man team.

Another expected to be part of the side is reigning US Open champion Matthew Fitzpatrick, who will be participating in his third Ryder Cup if things go to plan.

The Englishman's Major breakthrough has taken him to the next level and he will be desperate to put some blue up on the board next year, given the fact he has lost all five of his Ryder Cup matches.

Norwegian Viktor Hovland is another expected to be a shoo-in and, like Fitzpatrick, he will be eager to improve on a pretty dismal Ryder Cup record.

Despite being a rookie in 2021, the 25-year-old played in all five sessions, but he struggled to make his mark - losing three times and halving twice.

Similar to Lowry, that experience will have done wonders for him next time and he should have a much bigger impact on the team at Marco Simone Golf Club.

Possibles

With five of the automatic places taken by the quintet just mentioned, that only leaves one more spot to take and that could go the way of Robert MacIntyre.

The talented left-handed returned to the winners' circle in September at the Italian Open - which was played at Marco Simone GC - and the way he secured victory bodes well for a potential Ryder Cup debut.

Scotland's star shot a seven-under-par 64 on the final day to force a play-off against Fitzpatrick before then holding his nerve at the first extra hole to make birdie and take the title.

MacIntyre has grit and determination, two qualities needed when it comes to match play golf, and his recent victory has given him a good start in the qualification process.

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Another determined player that could be playing in Italy is Englishman Tyrrell Hatton, who has already featured in two Ryder Cups in 2018 and 2021.

The 30-year-old has a fiery temperament, which can be exactly what is needed at times, and he showed some fight and spirit in the 2021 edition at Whistling Straits.

Hatton contributed 1.5 points from four matches - the third-best record in the European side - and he is another player that will be gunning for revenge.

One of the most talented players on the European circuit is Denmark's Rasmus Hojgaard, who came close to clinching his fourth DP World Tour title on Sunday at the Open de France.

The 21-year-old is young, bold and boasts plenty of quality, making him a potential captain's pick if he doesn't manage to sneak into the automatic positions.

Frenchman Victor Perez is another in early contention to make the Ryder Cup team for the first time, especially given the fact he finished third at next year's Ryder Cup venue recently.

Having previous form on the course could play a major part in Donald's thinking for his picks, and Perez has done himself the world of good by impressing at Marco Simone GC.

Guido Migliozzi showcased his quality to snatch the Open de France title on Sunday and the possibility of playing on home soil in a Ryder Cup will be music to his ears.

The Italian is now a three-time DP World Tour winner and his impressive performance will have likely caught the eye of the European skipper.

Outsiders

Nicolai Hojgaard, twin brother of Rasmus, has a chance of joining his sibling on the European team and further elevating his status in the game.

While Rasmus is stealing the headlines right now, Nicolai is a two-time DP World Tour winner and he was part of the Denmark side that won the 2018 Eisenhower Trophy.

Although both would be rookies, the Hojgaard twins could be partnered together by captain Donald, given the fact they know each other so well and have played well as a pair before.

This is a big outside shout but there could be another family affair on the team, this time with Matt Fitzpatrick being joined by younger brother Alex.

Alex has only just turned professional but he has been showing promising form and a strong season could put him into the thoughts of Donald.

It is perhaps too early in Fitzpatrick's career to make the Ryder Cup team, but stranger things have happened and the fact all the talk is about how he is showing more promise at this age than brother Matt did only bodes well for the future.

Playing in a home Ryder Cup is a dream for a player and Francesco Molinari, hero of the European side in 2018 at Le Golf National, will be hoping for a spot on the side.

The Italian, winner of the 2018 Open, has featured on the winning side in all three of his previous three Ryder Cups in 2010, 2012 and 2018.

Molinari won all five matches in France, massively improving his previous competition record of 0-4-2, and he has started to rediscover some of his better form as he looks to get into the sights of Donald.

Partnering Molinari in 2018 was Tommy Fleetwood, with the duo winning all four matches they played together, and that combination could be seen again in Italy.

It has been a tough couple of years for Fleetwood, who has not won since the 2019 Nedbank Golf Challenge, but he is now back inside the top 30 of the world and showing some real form again.

'Moliwood', as he and Molinari were affectionately dubbed for their exploits in 2018, could be getting back together for the Italian job.

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Luke Donald is expected to bring some fresh blood into the European team
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