GUIDONIA MONTECELIO, Italy (AP) — European captain Luke Donald has made sure his Ryder Cup team does not lack for inspiration. It even reduced Shane Lowry to tears.
Team Europe posted a video of Donald giving a tour of the team room at Marco Simone, decked out in blue and gold with images of the late Seve Ballesteros practically everywhere.
There is a wall with the names of all 168 players who ever competed for Great Britain & Ireland and Europe (starting in 1979). The locker room has lockers for every player and caddie because as Donald says, “We're all in this together.”
His favorite room is what Donald calls the dressing room to get ready for the matches, with words in each stall — “This is your time” — written in their native language.
There are 13 such lockers — 12 players and one for Ballesteros.
“Seve is our ultimate symbol of what makes a European player great,” Donald said. “His spirit and his enthusiasm and his soul will be with us all the way.”
All the way out the door, for sure. The room has a painting of Ballesteros on the wall as they head out to the course.
“What the Ryder Cup meant to him, they'll feel that as they go out,” Donald said.
As for Lowry? The Irishman who once said he didn't cry when he won the British Open or when his daughter was born confessed to tears upon the arrival at Marco Simone.
That stemmed from some motivational videos Donald had for his team when they arrived. Details are not forthcoming, at least not yet.
“That's kind of personal for us,” Jon Rahm. “We have some individual videos and some collective videos. There’s very few players not shedding a few tears yesterday afternoon, I can say that.”
Lowry owned up to being one of them.
“Look, it's an emotional week, and even some of the stuff that’s happened already this week would get you quite emotional,” said Lowry, who made his Ryder Cup debut in 2021 at Whistling Straits, a 19-9 loss to the Americans.
“I think being a part of something that is bigger than you or anything else is pretty cool, and I think Whistling Straits was hard to take,” Lowry said. “But it was quite motivating for me coming away from that, and it’s quite motivating for me this week.”
All that Rahm shared about the video was that it was family-related, a reason all the players made it to the Ryder Cup.
“If you guys were to watch it, it would make you feel a lot of the same emotions we felt,” the Spaniard said.
Patrick Cantlay and Xander Schauffele have formed a strong partnership, which started with a card game on the long flight to Australia in 2019 and has produced a 7-3 record in team matches at the Ryder Cup and Presidents Cup.
Except for being Californians, they would appear to have little in common. Cantlay was the first to be asked Tuesday a difference in their personalities that he admires.
“He’s very positive,” Cantlay said with a smile.
It got even better when a British writer drew the obvious connection and wondered if that meant Cantlay was more on the grumpy side.
“Did you just get that notion right now?" Cantlay replied, a rare show of self-deprecation. “Most people would be grumpy around Xander. He is like Tony Robbins out there. He is impressively positive. I think the nice way to say it is I'm a realist.”
As for Schauffele, he also mentioned his “positivity,” though that's built largely around his golf.
“He's an easy guy to lean on because he’s so good at golf,” Schauffele said. “We just have a really good time, and when we get things going, it sort of feels like we kind of kick into cruise control. ... He’s an easy person to lean on to stay positive.
“His ability to focus is what I think is probably his strongest attribute, besides all the incredible golf and everything he's good at.”
That partnership at the Presidents Cup, a debut for both of them, carried off the course. They now take vacations together, Schauffele's wife and Cantlay's fiancée are close, and Schauffele recently moved from Las Vegas to South Florida near where Cantlay lives.
Ludvig Aberg has become a star attraction for the European team, mainly the fact that he was chosen for the Ryder Cup four months after the 23-year-old Swede finished playing at Texas Tech.
It went to a new level Tuesday. He was mentioned alongside the likes of former British Open champion Henrik Stenson, tennis great Björn Borg, retired soccer star Zlatan Ibrahimovic and ABBA, perhaps eclipsing them in fame one day.
“I would not put myself in the same sentence as ABBA,” Aberg said. “All I try to do is play golf and I try to hit as few shots as I can every tournament I play in.”
He does that well enough that European captain Luke Donald took a chance on him.
Tommy Fleetwood has contended on some of the biggest stages in golf, such as playing in the final group at the British Open and contending on the weekend this year at Royal Liverpool near where he grew up.
But the Ryder Cup is different, especially a home crowd.
“I think the crowds are there to lift you at all times, and I think when it’s going well, you absolutely ride the wave of a home crowd and the momentum that they are creating,” Fleetwood said. "The cheers, the sound, the noise, that’s amazing, and you know that they are there to lift you up if it’s not going so well.
“You look at Ryder Cup moments — putts holed or shots hit — the crowd is part of that. The reaction you get, the roars that you get, they play a huge part in your memory.”
Last time was different, of course. It was in Wisconsin, and there were practically no European fans at Whistling Straits because of travel restrictions still in place from COVID-19.
“I hit some great shots at Whistling Straits,” Fleetwood said. “Just nobody really cheered them.”
Steve Stricker's wife, Nicki, was never big on the pomp and galas at the Ryder Cup. When the matches were in Scotland in 2014 and Stricker was a vice captain, he was asked if his wife would be going with him.
“She didn't always like going when I was playing, so I doubt she'll want to go with me as a vice captain," Stricker said with a laugh.
The Ryder Cup in Rome held such appeal that Nicki had plans to go. Those plans were interrupted by good golf — not his, hers.
Nicki Stricker qualified for the U.S. Senior Women's Amateur. The 36-hole qualifying for match play starts on Friday in Scottsdale, Arizona.
Yes, golf runs in the family. Stricker already has set the season earnings record on the PGA Tour Champions, his wife is in a USGA championship, oldest daughter Bobbi had Epson Tour status this year and their youngest, Izzi, is a Wisconsin state high school champion.
AP golf: https://apnews.com/hub/golf