Ryder Cup diary: Seve’s spirit lives on, while Fleetwood is mistaken for a fan

Seven close to the heart

In the Eternal City, the spirit of Seve Ballesteros lives on. Luke Donald’s chosen tribute to the European Ryder Cup legend is subtle. On the inside of the shirts that the European players are wearing this week, on the back of the Ryder Cup badge and therefore against the heart, is an unmistakable Ballesteros motif. The Spanish golfer died in 2011 at the age of 54, but has been a constant source of reference for the Ryder Cup captains. Ballesteros’ compatriot and long-time Ryder Cup partner José María Olazábal is one of Donald’s vice-captains here.

Tommy who?

There was a moment of mild amusement on Tuesday afternoon when Tommy Fleetwood, who had been signing autographs for fans on the side of the 15th green, was briefly stopped from walking to the next hole by an overzealous steward. Rory McIlroy, Shane Lowry and Sepp Straka were already waiting on the 16th tee. Fleetwood and McIlroy took on Lowry and Straka in a friendly match. Fleetwood just smiled. “He’s a player, man!” shouted an onlooker as the security official immediately realized what he was doing was wrong. The Englishman knocked his tee shot to 15 feet on the par four. A player, indeed.

Donald and the ferret

Those associated with LIV Golf are not entirely absent from the European Ryder Cup scene in Rome. Henrik Stenson was removed as captain, while Lee Westwood, Ian Poulter and Sergio García are notable absentees following their move to the Rebels. However, there is a place for Christian Donald. The brother of Luke Donald, who is Brendan Steele’s bagman during the LIV tour, is deputy caddymaster for the European team here. Christian was a regular in the Ryder Cup environment when Luke was involved. In Italy he operates under the European caddymaster; Justin “the Ferret” Phillips. He has fulfilled this role since 1997.

The European captain, Luke, won’t be the only Donald in Rome. Photo: Richard Heathcote/Getty Images

Netflix is ​​navigating choppy waters

Netflix was hoping to have a plethora of behind-the-scenes Ryder Cup footage in series two of their critically acclaimed golf documentary, Full Swing. Earlier this month, reports surfaced that US captain Zach Johnson had made it clear the visiting team in Rome would not grant such access. However, there was an element of cooperation from Johnson and especially from players who were completely happy with the way they were presented during series one. With Europe and the US now based in the same hotel in Rome, producers will have to carefully navigate what is and is not off-limits in the coming days.

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Cantlay downplays Koepka’s criticism

Golf historians should give Patrick Cantlay a wide lead. When asked the entirely fair question of what his first Ryder Cup memory represents while watching on television, the world number 5 replied: “I don’t know if I have one. I don’t know if I have any memories of the early Ryder Cup.” Cantlay put aside any team room issue with Brooks Koepka. At the Masters, Koepka seemed to target Cantlay for slow play. “When I look back at his comments, it was generally about it being slow,” Cantlay said. “So no, no problem at all, and I’m his biggest fan this week.” Well, the Masters is just a memory.