There is no doubt the Ryder Cup will be on the minds of a significant percentage of the field at this week’s Open Championship at Hoylake.

The final major of the year offers the chance for fringe players to rocket themselves up the automatic qualification list, or at the very least catch the eye of USA captain Zach Johnson or his European counterpart Luke Donald.

Both were in attendance at Hoylake on Wednesday, and both admitted they had been out and about, having a look at the hopefuls.

“It’s been a really productive few days,” said Donald. “I’ve just been out on the course with some of the players, getting their mindset about their strategies for this week, and just to see where they are.

“But also to keep those communications, that chat going. Because after this week we get a bit more spread about. There’s not so many events on the DP World Tour over the next few weeks. Obviously the [FedEx] Playoffs in the US. So it’s a great opportunity to be around the players, keep those discussions, keep the communication up.”

What is the Ryder Cup?

One of the most-watched sporting events in the world, the Ryder Cup is distinctive for inserting athletes from an individual sport into a team environment. Aside from the golf, the team dynamics and relationships have made for compelling viewing.

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.

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