Saturday 18 November 2017

Ryder Cup team enjoy bonding over an Italian

European captain Darren Clarke
European captain Darren Clarke
Liam Kelly

Liam Kelly

The influence of European Ryder Cup captain Darren Clarke on the groupings for the opening two rounds of the Italian Open at Golf Club Milano is designed to help in the build up to Hazeltine.

Seven of his team are in action, as are three of the five vice-captains - Padraig Harrington, Paul Lawrie and Thomas Bjorn.

Harrington plays alongside Ryder Cup rookie Andy Sullivan, just ahead of Masters champion Danny Willett, Martin Kaymer, and Matthew Fitzpatrick.

Thomas Bjorn is in Chris Wood's group while Ryder Cup veteran Lee Westwood joins another rookie, Rafa Cabrera-Bello on the first tee today.

All the players have their individual goals for the tournament, not least winning money and Race To Dubai points, but the underlying theme is Ryder Cup solidarity.

Westwood, who plays the Italian Open for the first time in 16 years, said: "This will be a good preparation week for me. Hopefully I can get myself in contention and get the competitive juices flowing."

Former Ryder Cup skipper Paul McGinley makes a rare Tour appearance. Injury and his duties as Irish Olympic Golf team manager have curtailed his playing schedule.

Also in action are Irish duo Paul Dunne and Michael Hoey.

Italian Open

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Irish Independent

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