Ryder Cup 2023: Europe v USA, day one – live | Ryder Cup 2023

Key events

Jon Rahm nearly drains a 30-footer across the par-three 4th. Nearly but not quite. The door’s open for Scottie Scheffler, but his birdie putt from eight feet dribbles past on the right. He looks after it agog. Scheffler’s struggles with the flat stick are a matter of record, and if this is any sort of harbinger, it could be a long week for the big man. Better news for the USA on 3, though, where Viktor Hovland hits the flagstick with his chip, only for Max Homa to drain a long birdie putt across the green to reduce America’s arrears in match two.

1UP Rahm/Hatton v Scheffler/Burns (4)
1UP Hovland/Aberg v Homa/Harman (3)
Lowry/Straka A/S Fowler/Morikawa (1)
McIlroy/Fleetwood v Schauffele/Cantlay

Rory McIlroy’s career record at the Ryder Cup isn’t quite as good as one might assume. He’s 12-12-4 overall. It means everything to him, though, as those tears upon beating Xander Schauffele in the singles at Whistling Straits, after an otherwise unproductive showing, demonstrated. The weight thus on his shoulders, he sends his opening drive into the rough down the right. Patrick Cantlay’s disappears into the cabbage on the other side. This fairway has been left untouched for the most part.

Viktor Hovland does it again! Aberg’s chip from the rough at the back of the green ends up 15 feet away. Buoyed by the knowledge that his opponents have failed to get up and down from the sand, Hovland walks in the putt, and there goes that roof again! Meanwhile an escape for Europe back on 1, as Lowry pushes his par putt, only for Fowler to miss a tickly one from shorter range. Hole halved in bogey, and this is a very decent start for the hosts.

1UP Rahm/Hatton v Scheffler/Burns (3)
2UP Hovland/Aberg v Homa/Harman (2)
Lowry/Straka A/S Fowler/Morikawa (1)
McIlroy/Fleetwood v Schauffele/Cantlay

“The greatest weekend in live sport is here. Go Team Europe! Is it healthy to have nerves like this at 7am in the morning?” Probably not, Paul Maguire. Think how the poor players feel. Lowry and Fowler both lash their second shots out of the rough on 1 just short of the green. Neither Straka nor Morikawa go particularly close with their chips. Putting contest coming up.

Nerves latest: From the centre of the 2nd fairway, Homa and Hovland take turns to miss the green on either side. The USA in a bunker on the left, Europe in rough back right. Meanwhile up on 3, Sam Burns sends a very skittish shot into bother down the right of the hole. Scheffler can’t get particularly close with his chip, and opens the door for Rahm, who steers in a left-to-right swinging putt from the fringe and puts Europe up in the lead match!

1UP Rahm/Hatton v Scheffler/Burns (3)
1UP Hovland/Aberg v Homa/Harman (1)
Lowry/Straka v Fowler/Morikawa

Collin Morikawa’s opening shot is a nervy one. His drive sails off towards the gallery on the right, and clanks some poor dude upside the head. His ball nestles in thick rough … though not as thick as the rough Sepp Straka finds down the left of the hole. That was even more jittery, and won’t have settled the Austrian debutant’s nerves any. Meanwhile the US captain Zach Johnson is taking the barracking his team are copping from the home gallery in good spirit: “Fans are the engine behind the Ryder Cup, whether here or back home,” he tells Sky with a smile. “The energy, the passion, makes it special.”

Rahm/Hatton A/S Scheffler/Burns (2)
1UP Hovland/Aberg v Homa/Harman (1)
Lowry/Straka v Fowler/Morikawa

If there was a roof over Marco Simeone, it would be coptering over Sardinia right now! That’s because the gallery roars its approval as Hovland elects to chip from the fringe at the back of 1. Facing almost 90 degrees to the right of the hole, he utilises the camber along the edge of the green to bring the ball round and set it on its journey curling into the cup! He punches the air, the first wild celebration of the week. First blow made by Europe! Meanwhile the lads out first halve the 2nd in par.

Rahm/Hatton A/S Scheffler/Burns (2)
1UP Hovland/Aberg v Homa/Harman (1)
Lowry/Straka v Fowler/Morikawa

Viktor Hovland and Ludvig Aberg celebrate early on.
Viktor Hovland and Ludvig Aberg celebrate early on. Photograph: Patrick Smith/Getty Images

Well, OK, but the 23-year-old debutant is going to feel the nerves as well. Understandably so. Aberg’s wedge into 1 isn’t the best, pushed a few yards right and long, but Europe’s ball holds the green, just, and Hovland will be able to putt from 50 feet. Harman sets up a much more makeable chance for Homa, 30 feet out.

The second match takes to the first tee. Max Homa, who partners the Open champion Brian Harman, sends his drive down the right-hand side of the fairway. Viktor Hovland, going round with his fellow Scandinavian, the debutant Ludvig Aberg, follows him down there, and passes him a good way too, having absolutely crunched his opening drive. “Two for two in fairways so far, my boys are ready,” smiles Luke Donald on Sky Sports. “I’m not worried about any of my guys. They’re ready. [Ludvig] is going to crush it.”

A reminder of the format

For the benefit of folk who fancy getting up on the downswing this weekend but don’t always follow the greatest sport in the world, we usually cut and paste the following explainer. Hey, if it’s worth reading once, it’s worth reading a dozen times. Here we go …

The Ryder Cup is a matchplay event. Each match is worth a point. There are 28 points available over the three days, so the first team to get to 14.5 points will win the Cup. Should the scores be tied at 14 points apiece, the USA will retain the trophy as current holders.

Match-play explained for those dipping their toe into the murky world of golf for the first time: In common-or-garden championship golf, such as the Masters or the Open, tournaments are scored using the stroke-play system. Whoever takes the fewest shots over all four rounds in a championship wins. All shots count and are added up for a cumulative total. So if, say, in next year’s Masters, Jon Rahm shoots 63-63-63-63 and Scottie Scheffler shoots 87-87-87-87, Rahmbo will have taken 252 strokes, and beaten the best player in the world by 96 shots. (Good luck if you bet large on this exact outcome.)

Anyway, in match play, each player or team wins a hole for every hole they better their opponents. So if Scottie takes five shots at the 1st, but Rahm needs only three, Rahm goes 1up. If Rahm wins the next hole too, he’s 2up. If the pair share the same number of shots on the 3rd, the hole is halved, and Rahm remains 2up. It doesn’t matter if Scheffler took 13 shots on her way to losing the 2nd, by the way; a bit like the unwritten rule of visits to wallet-sewer-interface-venue Las Vegas, what happens on each hole stays on each hole. There is no knock-on effect.

So let’s say Rahm wins the first nine holes of our make-believe match. With nine played, and nine remaining, he is 9up. Scottie can only tie at best; Rahm can’t lose. This is known as dormie. (And more specifically, in this slightly ludicrous example, as dormie nine.) If Scheffler wins the next nine, the game will end all square, and each team will get half a point to their overall total. But if Rahm wins the 10th, he’s 10up with eight holes to play. He has won 10&8. If the 10th hole is halved, Rahm would be 9up with eight to play. She’s won 9&8. Similarly Scheffler can be said to have lost 9&8. Europe would add a point to their overall total. I’ve probably made this sound way more complicated than it needs to be, but there it is anyway.

There will be three types of match: foursomes (teams of two players use one ball, taking alternate shots); fourballs (teams of two players play a ball each and take the best score, known as the better ball); and singles (this is when it gets quite wild and everyone across two continents starts with the shallow breathing and chest clutching). And these matches are arranged in a schedule like this:

Today: four matches of morning foursomes; four matches of afternoon fourballs.
Tomorrow: four matches of morning foursomes; four matches of afternoon fourballs.
Sunday: 12 singles matches.

Scheffler’s up to the task! He bumps his chip up and across the green, from the best part of 30 yards, straight at the cup. The ball pings the flagstick but doesn’t drop. So close to the most sensational of starts for the USA, but it’s just par. Rahm’s putt never threatens to disappear, and it’s honours halved on the opening hole in the opening match. What a chip by Scheffler! The USA pass their first test and that’s a statement of intent all right.

Rahm/Hatton A/S Scheffler/Burns (1)
Hovland/Aberg v Homa/Harman

Hatton settles his nerves with a solid approach into the green. He sends Europe’s second to 20 feet. Burns has to muscle America’s ball out of some juicy rough, and can’t quite reach the green. His ball ends up on the apron at the front, leaving Scheffler plenty of work to do.

The first hole at Marco Simone is a gentle dogleg left. Scottie Scheffler his the first shot of the 2023 Ryder Cup down it. His ball nestles in thick rough on the left. Not the ideal start for the USA. Jon Rahm takes Europe’s first shot and whistles it to a much safer position on the right of the fairway. Advantage Europe but needless to say there’s still quite a long way to go and many twists and turns to be taken. Anyway, it’s on! The 2023 Ryder Cup is on!

Scottie Scheffler gets things started.
Scottie Scheffler gets things started. Photograph: Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile/Getty Images

“HÚH!” Iceland has never produced a player for the European team, but the country does its bit by lending the fans their famous thunderclap. One heck of an atmosphere at the first tee as anticipation rises. There’s plenty of “Luuuuuuuke!” too as Captain Donald waves to the crowd, and of course some pantomime boos as Zach Johnson shows his face. Then finally the bedlam we’ve all been waiting for, as Jon Rahm and Tyrrell Hatton emerge from the tunnel. Hatton raises a fist, then claps his partner on the back. Scottie Scheffler and Sam Burns then turn up, the world number one turning to the crowd contributing to the panto fun as he turns to the gallery and performatively shrugs his shoulders, as if to ask why they’re not cheering. He knows why. Only at the Ryder Cup. Here we go, then!


Good morning and welcome to our live hole-by-hole text coverage of the 44th Ryder Cup Matches. Europe had a good thing going back there: between 1995 and 2014 the men in blue won eight out of ten Ryder Cups. But the USA have gotten their act together of late, winning two of the three most recent editions, the last a 19-9 shellacking at Whistling Straits in 2021. It was a hiding big enough for many observers to suggest Europe wouldn’t be winning another any time soon, and the US go into this year’s event at Marco Simone in Guidonia Montecelio, just north of Rome, as favourites to win on European soil for the first time since 1993.

Three things should give Europe succour, though. First up, that 30-year American drought over this side of the river. Then there’s the world rankings, with Europeans (Rory McIlroy, Jon Rahm and Viktor Hovland) taking three of the top four spots. And finally there’s the nature of the Ryder Cup itself: barely predictable, rarely anything other than utterly thrilling. Who knows where the latest edition is going to lead us?

On the flip side, the USA boast the world number one in Scottie Scheffler, and three of the four of this year’s major champions as well. Two observations here: one, bloody hell; yet having said that, two, it guarantees nothing given the aforementioned rollercoaster nature of this great tournament. Hey, whatever happens over the next four days, it’s sure to be one hell of a ride. May the best team win. Good luck to Europe, all the best to the USA. Here we go, then. It’s on!

Friday foursomes (Europe first, all times BST)
6.35am: Jon Rahm / Tyrrell Hatton v Scottie Scheffler / Sam Burns
6.50am: Viktor Hovland / Ludwig Aberg v Max Homa / Brian Harman
7.05am: Shane Lowry / Sepp Straka v Rickie Fowler / Collin Morikawa
7.20am: Rory McIlroy / Tommy Fleetwood v Xander Schauffele / Patrick Cantlay