By name it is an exhibition, for there is no money or ranking points to be had, and it’s intended to be a showcase of the game and, by extension, a match of goodwill. But anyone who’s played in it, been around it, experienced it, understands the Ryder Cup transcends such simple constraints, because players spend a lifetime chasing what is on the line and what it represents—and who they represent.

Yet what’s on the line at this year’s Ryder Cup outside Rome is more than just bragging rights. The United States team will be trying to do something that hasn’t happened since most of its roster was alive, which is win on the road. It’s been 30 years since the last away victory, and you don’t need to remind anyone in red, white and blue of that fact. U.S. captain Zach Johnson brings a talented lineup, led by World No. 1 Scottie Scheffler, 2023 major champs in Brooks Koepka, Wyndham Clark and Brian Harman, and the superduos of Jordan Spieth/Justin Thomas and Xander Schauffele/Patrick Cantlay. If any team can break the 30-year-slump, certainly this is the one.

To do that, the Americans will need to combat one of the better European sides in recent memory. Masters champ Jon Rahm, Rory McIlroy and FedEx Cup winner Viktor Hovland lead a young but loaded European squad. While there were early fears the exclusion of LIV Golf members could hurt the Euros, the depth chart has been bolstered by the breakthroughs of Ludvig Aberg and Nicolai Hojgaard. Matt Fitzpatrick, Tommy Fleetwood, Justin Rose and Tyrrell Hatton give European captain Luke Donald a host of veterans who will try to get the streak alive.

In honor of the Ryder Cup’s arrival we ranked all 24 players who will compete at Marco Simone, with a prediction at the end, hoping to give you a leg up on your friends as you watch/bet on most exciting three days in golf.

24: Robert MacIntyre 1638302713

Octavio Passos

EUROPE Ryder Cup Appearances: Rookie | Record: N/A Bobby Mac has six top-10s on the year, including a runner-up finish at the Scottish Open that allowed him to grab the DP World Tour’s final automatic qualifying spot for the European team. But he’s by far the worst performer heading into Rome; according to DataGolf, MacIntyre ranks 86th in true strokes gained over the last six months. For context, Chris Gotterup, who plays on the Korn Ferry Tour, is in 87th. MacIntyre has the disposition and tenacity that the Ryder Cup demands, and his putting and around-the-green prowess could come in handy. However, the Scotsman desperately needs to improve his approach performance (-0.25 SG since March) to make a difference at Marco Simone.

23: Sepp Straka 1528860777

Michael Reaves

EUROPE Ryder Cup Appearances: Rookie | Record: N/A Straka is making his Ryder Cup debut thanks to a heater in July that saw him capture the PGA Tour’s John Deere Classic and finish T-2 at the Open Championship the following week. That’s not to say the Austrian with the southern accent is a one-month wonder, as he finished T-6 on the “shadow” Tour Championship leaderboard with a T-10 at the DP World Tour’s flagship BMW PGA Championship in September. Straka is not exactly a complete player (93rd on the PGA Tour off-the-tee, 156th around-the-green, 54th in putting), and he doesn’t make a ton of red numbers (58th in birdie average, 93rd in eagle average). But his iron work is formidable enough (16th in approach) to steal a point or two for the Europeans.

22: Sam Burns 1592775698

Ben Jared

U.S. Ryder Cup Appearances: Rookie | Record: N/A How deep is the United States? Their last pick for the team is the reigning WGC-Dell Match Play champ. Save for that triumph in Texas, Burns’ year was a bit of a disappointment, and a T-6 at Colonial was his only top-10 finish at a full-field event since March. For those wondering why the dip in production following his three-win campaign last season, Burns’ second-shot execution went from good to ghastly, ranking 126th in approach after finishing 18th in the category in 2022. Conversely, his touch around the greens is superb (ninth in SG/putting) and though his partnership with Scottie Scheffler did not work out at last fall’s Presidents Cup the natural pairing and friendship between the two will likely see Burns in a minimum of three matches in Rome.

Statistical ranking of who should be forced to putt everything out at Marco Simone

21: Nicolai Hojgaard 1476753952

Stacy Revere

EUROPE Ryder Cup Appearances: Rookie | Record: N/A Lost in Abergmania is the fact that Hojgaard is 18 months younger than Aberg. Hojgaard is an assassin with the driver, ranking second on the DP World Tour in SG/off-the-tee, and put his distance to good use, entering Rome second on his tour in scoring for those who have played at least 50 rounds this season. Though he’s been a rising star in the golf world for some time he’s still unknown to the non-zealous, but there’s a good chance everyone knows his name by the end of the week. Also, let me be the 18th person to suggest the Europeans should bring Nicolai’s twin Rasmus (who won a DP World Tour event in July), interchange the brothers between Friday and Saturday sessions, ride the hotter hand Sunday and see if anyone notices.

20: Shane Lowry 1342776079

Maddie Meyer/PGA of America

EUROPE Ryder Cup Appearances: 2 | Record: 1-2-0 Lowry’s selection drew some criticism, and most of said uproar was the usual fuss that comes with captain’s picks, because this is the Internet and someone has to be arguing at all times. In that same breath, the righteous indignation defending Lowry was likewise odd. Lowry is a good player, no doubt, definitely one of the best dozen Europeans in golf at the moment … yet until a T-3 at the Irish Open this month he had not turned in a top-10 finish since March. He’s also been on just one prior Ryder Cup team and didn’t play particularly well at Whistling Straits, either. His creativity and short-game expertise give him a high ceiling, but given his 2023 form Lowry is somewhat of a wildcard this week.

How did the Ryder Cup end up at little known Marco Simone?

No. 19: Rickie Fowler 1042761868

Mike Ehrmann

U.S. Ryder Cup Appearances: 5 | Record: 3-7-5The 34-year-old enjoyed a career revival in 2023, logging eight top-10s (including a stellar run at the U.S. Open) and winning for the first time since 2019 at the Rocket Mortgage Classic. Fowler’s slowed down a bit since the Detroit victory, although he’s still ninth in DataGolf’s true strokes gained over the last six months. Fowler hasn’t been particularly solid in four previous Ryder Cups but his game (11th SG/tee-to-green) and personality complement darn near every player on the U.S. roster. And while we should expect to see Fowler in foursomes, his ability to make birdies and a lot of them (10th in birdie average) could make him an interesting play in four-ball as well.

18: Ludvig Aberg 1676005320

Richard Heathcote

EUROPE Ryder Cup Appearances: Rookie | Record: N/A The internal debate whether this was too low or too high of a ranking was fierce. Since turning pro in June, Aberg leads professional golf in SG/off-the-tee and has three top-10s in his last three starts, highlighted by a win at the DP World Tour’s Omega European Masters. The hype is very, very real. On the other end of the spectrum, Aberg became the first player selected to a Ryder Cup without appearing in a major championship, and while that underlines his rapid ascent, it also shows he’s never been in an environment like this. To have such a talent as one of the last picks is a blessing for a European team that just months ago looked short on depth, yet don’t be surprised if the reins aren’t fully loosened off the fledgling superstar.

14 moments that made the Ryder Cup golf’s most compelling event

17: Wyndham Clark 1499611730

Ezra Shaw

U.S. Ryder Cup Appearances: Rookie | Record: N/A He has his doubters, who look at what he did at Quail Hollow and LAAC as nothing more than lightning in the bottle. It’s a sentiment that overlooks what he did at those tournaments—which, for a reminder, were a designated event and the UNITED STATES OPEN—to say nothing of what he has had to overcome to reach these heights. So instead, let me pull back the curtain to Sunday night after Clark’s U.S. Open victory, when a bunch of scribes huddled around the hotel bar to try and extrapolate what the win said about Clark and where he was going. In between rounds of drinks, one writer said, “Wyndham Clark is who [player name redacted] thinks he is.” If you’re wondering why we took out the player’s name, it’s because it would genuinely destroy our audience, to say nothing about the player in question. The point is, Clark is a stone-cold killer who seems to understand fans still haven’t bought him as a star yet relishes the opportunity to show them how wrong they are.

16: Justin Rose 1043481910

Ross Kinnaird

EUROPE Ryder Cup Appearances: 6 | Record: 13-8-2 Rose has been an absolute menace in foursomes at the Ryder Cup, owning a 7-2-1 record in the format. His season is more than just a victory at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am, racking up top-10s at the Players and PGA Championship. Rose’s recent form leaves a bit to be desired, missing the cut at both the U.S. and Open Championships and not doing much to speak of in the FedEx Cup or the BMW PGA. Still, for a player who was left off the 2021 European team—and for a team short on experience—the 43-year-old Rose’s involvement should be an asset for the Europeans.

Ryder Cup homefield advantage is so real it might be unfair

15: Max Homa 1625995284

Michael Reaves

U.S. Ryder Cup Appearances: Rookie | Record: N/A The Presidents Cup is not the Ryder Cup, but it’s also not nothing. Homa’s tour-de-force showing at Quail Hollow last fall, going 3-0 through the first three days (punctuated by a winning putt on Friday evening and an ensuing flurry of fist pumps that would make Tiger proud) and taking down breakout star Tom Kim on Sunday for a flawless record. Homa had a bit of a midseason lull after a strong start, but he enters Italy playing well, finishing T-12 or better in each of his last six starts and ranking 12th in true strokes gained over the last three months. Perhaps some worry he could be too revved up in his first match; that is a damn good problem to have. And we keep returning to what Homa has said over and over regarding why he didn’t leave for LIV Golf: “Money can’t buy my dreams.” One of Homa’s dreams was to represent his country at the Ryder Cup, and now that he’s here, do not expect him to be satisfied.

14: Collin Morikawa 1342946449

Richard Heathcote

U.S. Ryder Cup Appearances: 2 | Record: 3-0-1 Morikawa was fantastic in his Ryder Cup debut at Whistling Straits, notching three points in four matches in the American route. Since then, Morikawa’s star has ever-so-slightly dulled, not winning the past two seasons (albeit carding 14 top-10 finishes in 43 tour stars over their period) as his putting issues have become more pronounced. But he remains arguably the best ball-striker in the game (second in approach, fourth in SG/tee-to-green) and has an underlying combativeness that is exactly what the U.S. team needs in such formats.

Biggest hotheads in Ryder Cup history

13: Tyrrell Hatton 1342345681

Andrew Redington

EUROPE Ryder Cup Appearances: 3 | Record: 2-4-1 Hatton has slightly cooled off from a blistering first-half of the season yet still ranks eighth in true strokes gained over the last 12 months. He was one of just two Europeans to have a losing record at the 2018 match, and though he played better at Whistling Straits, he still finished with a 1-2-1 line. That Hatton does not have the best track record at majors does heighten the spotlight for him to do better when the golf matters the most. The Europeans will need more from him in Rome, especially since his stature has risen in the game over the last five years. No, he’s not necessarily part of the frontline of firepower, but to win a Ryder Cup a club needs its middlemen to deliver.

12: Brian Harman 1565417380

Gregory Shamus

U.S. Ryder Cup Appearances: Rookie | Record: N/AOne of the more peculiar critiques after Harman’s masterpiece at the Open was the U.S. team was cannibalizing itself, with Harman and Clark “taking” spots that others were projected to hold. My personal opinion is Harman’s victory actually saved the Americans from themselves. One of the takeaways from the 2018 disaster in Paris was that the U.S. failed to tailor its roster to a venue that called for precision and short-game dexterity. Assuming the Europeans set up Rome in a similar fashion (and early word says they will) having Harman ensures the U.S. won’t make the same mistake. Side note: Do not play a drinking game that involves imbibing every time Harman is called a “bulldog.” You will die.

Lesson learned from 5 U.S. captains who lost in Europe

11: Matt Fitzpatrick 1339238588

Warren Little

EUROPE Ryder Cup Appearances: 3 | Record: 0-5-0 No secret that his experiences with this event have been miserable. But a lot has changed since the fall of 2021, both in the golf world and with Fitzpatrick. He is no longer a player to fill out the backend of the roster, but one of the guys Europe will be counting on, inside the ropes and out. Fitzpatrick shook off the lingering effects of injury earlier this year to win in Hilton Head and comes to Italy in form with four top-20 finishes in his last four starts (including a runner-up at the BMW Championship). It took gumption and fortitude to do what he did at Brookline in 2022, to say nothing of the shotmaking the setup required. Anyone who discounts Fitzpatrick because of his past Ryder Cup record will be mistaken.

10: Justin Thomas 1343018132

Mike Ehrmann

U.S. Ryder Cup Appearances: 3 | Record: 6-2-1 No need to relitigate all the Thomas takes here … OK, maybe just one. Most of the Thomas outcry can be distilled to the misconception that fans view picks as de facto All-Star selections—which is why you see “deserving” in so many criticisms—rather than the formation of a team built for this wildly singular match-play event. Europe’s been successful with this “form is temporary, class is permanent” mindset in its Ryder Cup captain’s picks, particularly with Sergio Garcia. So that’s why I don’t care about Thomas’ recent struggles and instead focus on his whopping 17½ points for the Americans across two Ryder Cups and three Presidents Cups. Simply put, you don’t leave your heart and soul at home.

Our writer’s love affair with golf in Italy

9: Tommy Fleetwood 1045449424

David Cannon

EUROPE Ryder Cup Appearances: 2 | Record: 4-2-2 For the Europeans, only McIlroy and Hovland have better true strokes gained figures over the last six months than Fleetwood, and he comes to Rome with seven worldwide top-10s in his last nine starts. And yet, the lack of wins for Tommy Lad can’t be overlooked, and as brilliant as he was in 2018, he was mostly a nonfactor in Whistling Straits, scoring just one point in three matches. One of the great aspects of the Ryder Cup is the platform it provides for players to change their narratives, and with a setup that should favor his skillset, few are primed to take advantage of the opportunity like Fleetwood.

8: Brooks Koepka 1342301686

Maddie Meyer/PGA of America

U.S. Ryder Cup Appearances: 4 | Record: 6-5-1 At one point we had Koepka all the way up to No. 3 in the rankings, because, you know, he finished runner-up at the Masters, won the PGA Championship and rediscovered that confidence that borders on arrogance. And a possible foursomes pairing with Brian Harman might make the Europeans wave surrender on the first tee. But the lack of overall play since the Open Championship, coupled with the fact he’s playing the week before the Ryder Cup in LIV Chicago, is an odd rhythm that can’t be discounted.

The science of remaining calm at the Ryder Cup

7: Xander Schauffele/6: Patrick Cantlay 1342460314

Patrick Smith

U.S. XS: Ryder Cup Appearances: 2 | Record: 3-1-0 PC: Ryder Cup Appearances: 2 | Record: 3-0-1 Combining these two together, because if the Ryder Cup gave out tag-team championship belts like professional wrestling does (and let’s be honest, the Ryder Cup should absolutely do this), Schauffele and Cantlay are the reigning champs. These guys attack the course, and their opponents, like they caught them flirting with their mom, and that is an edge that has been missing when the Americans have gone on the road. The duo only played two matches together in Whistling Straits but would be shocked if they aren’t in at least three sessions together.

5: Jordan Spieth 1342466303

Andrew Redington

U.S. Ryder Cup Appearances: 5 | Record: 8-7-3 Sneaky rough year for Spieth. He did have seven top-10s but ranked 35th on tour in strokes gained and barely advanced to the Tour Championship. No matter; he is the adult in the U.S. locker room. Is coming off a 5-0-0 performance at the Presidents Cup, and with Thomas’ unsteady 2023, Spieth will need to be the rock of the super-pairing. Which, let’s be honest, is kind of hilarious, since the inherent nature of Spieth’s game is anything but steady. (I made the joke earlier this year that “The way this year is going Spieth will get lost at the Vatican during the Ryder Cup and somehow end up as the new Pope,” leading to my favorite Twitter reply ever: Michael is that smoke white?)And yet, if the Cup came down to a final match, I think Spieth would be the guy I’d want fighting for that ultimate point.

4: Viktor Hovland 1342353464

Maddie Meyer/PGA of America

EUROPE Ryder Cup Appearances: 2 | Record: 0-3-2 Don’t let the record fool you; Hovland played damn well at Whistling Straits in his Ryder Cup debut. He arrives this year as the FedEx Cup champ, and yet what was arguably more impressive was Hovland’s routine appearance in major contention over the past two years. Even in defeat at the PGA Championship, Hovland displayed the type of shot-making and fearlessness required to be one of the best of his profession. Only worry is that Hovland is not a fan of Marco Simone, and if Hovland can’t get copacetic with the course the Euros are in big trouble.

Crazy s#!* that only happens in match play

3: Scottie Scheffler 1342956705

Mike Ehrmann

U.S. Ryder Cup Appearances: 2 | Record: 2-0-1 Statistically the best player in the world over the past 12 months, and inarguably the game’s most consistently great performer with a ridiculous 17 top-10s in 23 starts. The short game remains problematic (151st in SG/putting), although the slower greens should be more conducive to Scheffler’s stroke. A bigger question: Given the struggles that Scheffler and Burns had at last year’s Presidents Cup, does Zach Johnson stick with the duo if they fall short on Day 1? Johnson has the option of pairing Scheffler with Harman or going nuclear with a Scheffler-Koepka combo. Whoever his partner, Scheffler has the chance to state loud and clear in Rome that he’s the No. 1 player in the world, and everyone else is playing for second.

2: Rory McIlroy 1341735196

Mike Ehrmann

EUROPE Ryder Cup Appearances: 7 | Record: 12-12-4 The emotional fulcrum, not of his team or this event but all of the sport. Has had a rough run at the Ryder Cup as of late, losing six of his last nine matches. But the McIlroy that should show up in Rome is maybe the most actualized version of Rory McIlroy, the player and person, the Ryder Cup has seen. I’m not a betting man, but I’d never advise betting against hatless Rory.

1: Jon Rahm 1342347899

Stacy Revere

EUROPE Ryder Cup Appearances: 3 | Record: 4-3-1 I don’t want for much in this life, but my kingdom for Rahm to tie a bandana around his forehead like Sly Stallone in “First Blood” when he arrives to the first tee on Friday. Because as good as Rahm is—and just as a reminder, he’s generationally great—he showed at Whistling Straits an ability to push his game to another stratosphere at this event. And that my friends, will be the difference …

Final Prediction: Europe 15, United States 13

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