Highlights Tours

Nicolas Colsaerts named as vice captain for the 2023 Ryder Cup

Luke Donald has named Belgian Nicolas Colsaerts as his third Vice Captain for the 2023 Ryder Cup which will be played at Marco Simone Golf and Country Club in Rome, Italy from September 26 – October 1, 2023.
Colsaerts was part of the most famous European victory in the annals of the Ryder Cup in the 2012 contest at Medinah; producing one of the most memorable debuts in the history of the event when he carded eight birdies and an eagle in partnership with Lee Westwood to help defeat Tiger Woods and Steve Stricker on the final green in the Friday fourball session.
Outside of the Ryder Cup arena, Colsaerts has won three times on the DP World Tour, previously known as the European Tour. His most recent was a dramatic triumph in the 2019 Open de France, where he entered the week battling to keep his Tour card and ended it style with a one shot victory. To date, he has played in 436 Tour events to lie 84th in the list of all-time appearances.
Colsaerts is a well-liked figure on Tour and will undoubtedly be a popular addition to Team Europe. The Belgian joins Dane Thomas Bjørn, the successful 2018 European Captain, and Italian Edoardo Molinari as Vice Captains for the 2023 contest; his appointment being the perfect belated birthday gift for him as he turned 40 only last week.
Colsaerts said: “My first reaction when Luke asked me was sheer joy. Every time I hear the words ‘Ryder Cup’, it takes me back to the edition I played in, how proud I was to wear the European colours and be part of such an unbelievable event. Of course, Luke was in that team too and when we spoke he mentioned how much he has always loved what the Ryder Cup means to me.
“Being a Vice Captain is a different role to being a player but, nevertheless, my mission in 2023 will be exactly the same as it was in 2012, namely, to make a contribution to the team in any way I can. Rest assured, whatever I am asked to do, I will do it.
“We already have two fantastic Vice Captains in Thomas Bjørn and Edoardo Molinari and we already have a special bond between us. We are all different personalities but that is interesting because when you put us all in a room together you will have different angles, and Luke will be able to take what is best from each of us.
“When you play team sport as a youngster you are told that the most important thing is to participate and while that is true then, when you are a professional golfer in the Ryder Cup, when you wear the colours and you step onto that first tee, the only thing you want to do is to win; not only for the other guys on the team, but also for the Continent you are representing. That is what we want to do in Rome.”
Captain Donald said: “Nico has been on my mind for a couple of months now to be honest. I played in the team with him in 2012 and you could just see how much it meant to him. He understands what it means to represent the European crest and what it means to be part of the Ryder Cup set-up. When I asked him, he literally had goosebumps – so I am very happy to have him as my third Vice Captain.
“Nico gets along extremely well with all the guys out here on the DP World Tour and he will be a great person to help keep an eye on things here in Europe in periods when I might be in the US. There is already great communication between us – myself, Thomas, Edoardo and Nico – and I couldn’t be happier with the way my backroom team is shaping up.”

Text: Team Europe/ DP World Tour


Henrik Stenson names first vice-captain for 2023 Ryder Cup

The team around Ryder Cup captain Henrik Stenson is starting to grow. Thomas Bjørn has been named first vice-captain for the match between Europe and the United States. The 51-year-old Dane already brings a lot of Ryder Cup experience with him. He has already taken part in the event eight times: three times as a player, four times as vice-captain and once as the winning captain at the 2018 Ryder Cup in Paris. More than 20 years ago, in 1997, Thomas Bjørn’s Ryder Cup career began when he became the first Dane ever to be part of the European team led by Seve Ballesteros.

Stenson trusts Thomas Bjørn “implicitly”

The two Scandinavians Henrik Stenson and Thomas Bjørn have known each other for many years. For Stenson, that’s one point that significantly influenced his decision to go with Bjørn: “I trust him implicitly and I know any advice he will give me will be honest and direct. He will not simply tell me what he thinks I want to hear and that will be important, so I’m delighted to have him as my first Vice Captain for Rome.”

In addition, Stenson said he trusts Bjørn’s years of experience already with the Ryder Cup. Considering the fact that the Ryder Cup will not take place for over a year, Stenson is looking forward to the long preparation period: “I will be depending on him a lot and I’m really looking forward to those chats.”

Bjørn is looking forward to the Ryder Cup 2023

For Thomas Bjørn, Henrik Stenson’s request seemed to have come as a surprise: “I probably thought that after 2018 that was it for me, but Henrik called me to talk about Captaincy in general and that led into him asking me if I wanted to do another stint as Vice Captain, which I agreed to. I’m excited to work with him.” Thomas Bjørn intends to fulfill his role as vice captain as best he can: “I will help him prepare in the best possible way and as we get closer to the match, to be an additional support to the players.”

The Dane has high hopes for captain Henrik Stenson, both golf-wise and personally. He describes Stenson as a “hard-working golfer” who will make a fantastic captain. For Bjørn, Stenson is “somebody who is true to himself, and his team will represent that. He has a great sense of humour that the players will take to, and he is very well liked across the whole Tour.”

Highlights Tours

Ryder Cup 2023: Players and fans are excited for “The Iceman”

It was announced on Tuesday that Henrik Stenson will lead his fellow Europeans into the 2023 Ryder Cup as captain. The Swede will send Europe’s best golfers into the race against the Americans led by Zach Johnson at the Marco Simone Golf Club in Italy. On the web, many fans and (former) players are reacting delightedly to this news, but others also see the decision critically.

Ryder Cup 2023: Excitement for the “Iceman”

Sir Nick Faldo, who captained Team Europe at the 2008 Ryder Cup, describes Henrik Stenson as a “great guy”, but points out that he has a “really tough job” ahead of him. “Half the team will probably be the old school, the backbone with maybe six unknown-ish rookies.” Faldo wishes him and the team the best of luck against the seemingly overpowering Americans.

Another former team captain, Thomas Bjørn, also congratulates the 45-year-old on his nomination. “Time to get behind “The Iceman”,” the 2018 captain encourages the new skipper.

Paul Lawrie, 1999 Open champion and winner part of the victorious 2012 team at Medinah, was also considered a candidate for the captaincy. The Scot sends his congratulations to Henrik Stenson and the team.

Colin Montgomerie can look back on many years of Ryder Cup experience and also congratulates.

Other players also react to the announcement of their new captain. Ross Fisher, 2010 Ryder Cup winner, writes: “I know you will be a great captain for the lucky 12 boys in Rome.”

Jon Rahm and Justin Rose also react to the announcement on Twitter.

Ian Poulter congratulated with this funny video:

Fans’ reactions about Henrik Stenson

For many fans the choice of captain is the right one, Henrik Stenson has a “very likeable and charismatic character,” this tweet says, but: “The Americans will be hard to stop in Rome with the talent at their disposal.”

Other fans and also journalists are looking forward to the prankster Stenson in particular. “As captain You are allowed to prank players extra,” this fan says excitedly.

Rex Hoggard says “the Swede’s press conferences will be can’t-miss.”

But there are also dissenting voices. This fan sees Henrik Stenson as “not a leader of men” and congratulates the Americans prematurely on their victory.

This is contrasted by other opinions.

Whether Henrik Stenson was the “right” choice will only become clear next year when the matches are played at the Marco Simone Golf Club. In any case, Team USA is facing “a worthy opponent”.

Europe Travel

A green skirt moves into the focus of the golf world

Plenty of adrenalin early in the morning

Around eight o’clock in the morning, we start out of town in our rental car near the famous Villa Borghese. The extremely fast, offensive driving style of the Roman road users takes some getting used to for us, but after a short time it works fine. If you wait, you will not reach your destination in time. We get the impression that traffic signs and traffic lights are seen more as a recommendation. Unharmed and happy, we reach the Marco Simone Golf & Country Club on the north-eastern outskirts of the Italian metropolis a good half hour later.

Thumbs up (Photo Jürgen Linnenbürger)

Here in Guidonia Montecelio, the 44th edition of the Europe : USA golf competition will take place in September 2023, one year late. After 1997 in Valderrama and 2018 in Paris, it will be only the third Ryder Cup on continental European soil.

The biggest green skirt ever designed

World-renowned fashion and perfume designer Laura Biagiotti and her daughter Lavinia Biagiotti Cigna, thanks to the Italian Golf Federation, the Italian National Olympic Committee (CONI) and to the support of national and local institutions, brought the Ryder Cup to her club in 2015, which she founded in 1971. Since her death in 2017, Lavinia Biagiotti Cigna has continued the project and now heads the club as President.

Lavinia quotes her mother as saying “My mother used to say this is the biggest green skirt I have ever designed”.

Originally designed by Jim Fazio, the course has been completely redesigned as of 2018. This task was successfully taken on by European Golf Design, together with Jim’s son Tom Fazio II.

On an area of 150 hectares, a par-72 stadium course has been created, which is perfectly integrated into the open, partly quite hilly terrain. It is a course designed not only for players but also for the up to fifty thousand spectators expected daily. On both sides of the fairways, the terrain often rises, so that from these elevated places, the game action can be followed not only on one fairway, but on several at once.

Plenty of space on the course (Photo Marco Simone Golf & Country Club)

The paths are very well maintained and asphalted, the distances between greens and tees are pleasantly short. The course is fair and a pleasure to play. It is a real match play course and allows a good score for all HCP classes, provided you hit the right spots on the greens. If you do not, you get penalised.

The tee-offs are less challenging. But the ones into the green are, some of which can be hit blind.

We particularly like the two par-5s at the end of the front nine and the 16, a 322 m long par-4. For us, it is the most beautiful hole on the course. If you do not resist the temptation to attack the green with your steep descent tee shot here, you run the risk of experiencing your damp miracle. We are already curious to see how many balls will disappear here in 2023 during the Ryder Cup.

Fantastic 16th hole (Photo Marco Simone Golf & Country Club)

Construction of the new driving range has already begun. The clubhouse will also be renovated before the Ryder Cup.

A successful creation

I take up Laura Biagiotti’s comparison of the course with a skirt and describe it as if it were such a garment:
We really like the motifs on the green skirt. On its front, the 11th-century Marco Simone Castle, now Lavinia’s home, attracts our gaze. Also the astronomer Galileo Galilei used to live here.

Marco Simone Castle is omnipresent (Photo Jürgen Linnenbürger)

On the back of the skirt, the hill town of Sant’Angelo Romana catches the eye, as does Rome’s silhouette with St. Peter’s Basilica in the distance.

Cleverly placed are its 18 mostly not too big, wavy and smooth green buttons. Real eye-catchers are the four large blue dots of colour, two on each side, and the blue zips that snake over part of the back.

The skirt comes in two versions. We are introduced to the spring version, where the green fringes located on its sides are kept short and blend seamlessly into the colour of the skirt. In the autumn version, these are much longer and denser, so that it is easy to get caught in them. Their shiny golden-brown colour is the ideal contrast to the otherwise rich green and another visual highlight.

Golden-brown deep rough in autumn (Photo Marco Simone Golf & Country Club)

The bright white linings of the numerous pockets are velvety soft. Their edges are perfectly finished. You can get out of them easily, even if they get wet. A special textile layer ensures that.

Perfect bunker conditions (Photo Marco Simone Golf & Country Club)

The smooth surface is very elastic and its material handles even large amounts of rain very well. There is nothing to complain about in terms of its high-quality workmanship. We particularly like the fact that great importance is attached to sustainability in its production.

The stylish unisex mini is available in four sizes for men and three for women. The XXL version is only 6.373 meters long. Usually it is not too tightly cut and offers plenty of freedom of movement in all variants. However, it can be made tighter for special occasions.

The brand and the high quality come at a price. For the use of the designer piece, one pays €180 on site. If you book online, you get a ten percent discount.

18th green in front of the clubhouse (Photo Jürgen Linnenbürger)

Sporty charming

With the 78th Italian Open being held in September 2021, the course has passed its sporting baptism of fire in the best possible way. The Dane Nicolai Hojgaard won with 13 under par and thus won his first tournament on today’s DP World Tour.

Stay and Play

Various hotels, including those outside Rome, offer attractive stay and play packages or green fee discounts. This also applies to the multiple award-winning, five-star Argentario Golf & Wellness Resort in Porto Ercole in the Maremma in southern Tuscany, where we will spend the next few days. I report on this in a separate article.
Jürgen Linnenbürger
April 2022