USA have not won a Ryder Cup on European soil since 1993 and are looking to put an end to that barren run in Italy later this year.
Team Europe were trounced by a dominant American team at Whistling Straits in 2021, a chastening experience which prompted calls for a sharp transition to younger talent.
That process may have been accelerated by the LIV Golf schism within the professional game, with stalwarts such as Ian Poulter, Lee Westwood and Sergio Garcia joining the rebel Tour.
Whether or not they will be considered for Ryder Cup selection is yet to be decided, but expect LIV to cast a shadow over proceedings regardless.
What is the Ryder Cup?
One of the most-watched sporting events in the world, the Ryder Cup is distinctive for putting athletes from an individual sport in a team environment.
Amateur golfer and businessman Samuel Ryder conceived the idea of a match between British and American professionals, with the inaugural Ryder Cup played in Massachusetts in 1927.
The match was played between an American and British or British and Irish team until 1977.
After nine USA victories and one tie in 10 meetings, Jack Nicklaus wrote a letter to Lord Derby (then president of the British PGA) suggesting Britain and Ireland merge with Continental Europe to make the Ryder Cup more competitive.
Ryder Cups became far more closely fought and dramatic by the mid-Eighties, and the extravaganza we know today was born.
When is it?
The Ryder Cup is always staged in late September or early October after the season’s major championships, and lasts for three days.
This year’s Ryder Cup starts on Friday, September 29 with the final day on Sunday, October 1.
Where is it?
The 44th Ryder Cup will be hosted by Italy for the first time in its history.
The venue is the Marco Simone Golf and Country Club just outside Rome, which has previously hosted the Italian Open.
Italian players to represent Europe with distinction include Costantino Rocca and the Molinari brothers, Francesco and Eduardo.
How can I watch on TV?
NBC are the broadcasters in America, where viewers will either have to stay up late or wake up very early to catch the morning sessions on Friday and Saturday. When the Ryder Cup was played in France five years ago, play began at 2.10am Eastern Time, with the afternoon sessions starting at a more civilised 7.50am Eastern Time.
No such worries for viewers in the UK, where there will be exclusive live TV coverage on Sky Sports. In 2018, the first matches went off at 7.10am BST.
Who are the Ryder Cup captains?
Europe will be led by Luke Donald, who replaced Henrik Stenson last year after the Swede was stripped of the title. USA captain is 2007 Masters champion Zach Johnson.
How can I buy tickets?
General admission tickets for the Ryder Cup are now sold out, but more premium tickets including hospitality packages are available via the official website.
A Vista Terrace ticket for the final practice day – featuring live entertainment, DJs, private bars and food stands – will set you back about £350.
A place in the ‘Captains Club’ for Thursday to Sunday inclusive cost around £5,800 per person.
What is the Ryder Cup format?
Most golf tournaments such as the Masters and Open Championship are strokeplay, where every shot counts and the player with the lowest score after 72 holes wins.
The Ryder Cup is matchplay, meaning players compete as individuals or pairs against their opponents rather than the course. The pair or player with the lowest score wins the hole. For example, if Europe records a four on the first hole and USA a five, Europe will go one-up. If the scores are reversed on the second, the match will go back to all-square and so forth.
The match is won when the advantage is bigger than the number of holes remaining. If it finishes all-square, the match is halved.
There are two teams of 12. On Friday, there are four fourballs matches in the morning and four foursomes matches in the afternoon. This is repeated on Saturday. It means four players from each team sit out each session, with the team captain selecting his pairs and deciding who to leave out. There can be different pairs for each format.
The only time all 24 players are on the course is Sunday’s ‘singles’ when they go head-to-head in 12 direct match-ups.
Winning a match earns your team a point, with a halved match worth half-a-point to each team.
Those proficient at maths will have realised there are 28 points on offer, so both teams are aiming for 14-and-a-half points to win the Ryder Cup. A 14-14 tie would see the holders retain the trophy.
What is the Ryder Cup schedule?
Tuesday September 27-Thursday 28: Practice days with opening ceremony on Thursday evening.
Friday September 29: Four fourballs matches in morning, four foursomes matches in afternoon.
Saturday September 30: Four fourballs matches in morning, four foursomes matches in afternoon.
Sunday October 1: 12 singles matches before closing ceremony.
What is the difference between fourballs and foursomes?
Two European players against two Americans. All four players play the course as normal with their own ball. The pair who record the lowest score on a hole (individual score, not aggregate) win the hole. So if three players par the first hole, but a European birdies, then Europe go one-up.
This effectively means two bites of the cherry at every hole, so captains favour picking aggressive players in this format. Even if they are slightly erratic, there is the insurance of a second ball in play. That’s the theory at least.
Two European players against two Americans. However, in this format each pair has just one ball in play with shots taken alternately. It is a much quicker format but a far harder discipline. One bad shot can cost you a hole, in contrast to fourballs when you have your partner’s ball to rely on.
For this reason, captains tend to favour their most consistent and accurate ball-strikers who can keep the ball in play. Par tends to be a good score in foursomes, while fourballs is all about making birdies.
One European against one American in direct matchplay.
How are players selected and what are the current standings?
Both teams have tinkered with the qualification process over the years in search of the optimal balance between rewarding strong current form, recognising consistent performances and giving the captain some autonomy.
In this cycle, just six European players will qualify automatically with captain Donald allowed to hand-pick his remaining six. To decide the automatic qualifiers, the three leading players in the European Points List will be joined by the top three from the World Points List who are not already qualified.
As things stand, that means the following players would be on the team.
From the European Points List: Jon Rahm, Rory McIlroy, Victor Perez.
From the World Points List: Viktor Hovland, Shane Lowry, Seamus Power.
This could change though, with qualification open until September 3.
The ‘six plus six’ method for selecting the team is an attempt to emulate what the Americans deployed so successfully at Whistling Straits, and unsurprisingly they are sticking with that model.
As things stand, the six players qualifying for Johnson’s team are: Scottie Scheffler, Will Zalatoris, Justin Thomas, Collin Morikawa, Max Homa and Cameron Young.
Johnson will pick the remaining six in September.
What are the odds?