This week, golf is all over the place. The PGA Tour is back on in Napa, the LPGA Tour is just north of that in Portland, LIV Golf is stopped just outside Chicago, and the DP World Tour is nine time zones away, near Rome. Only one of those events will gladly have you for free, and it just so happens to be the event with Rory McIlroy, Viktor Hovland, Matthew Fitzpatrick and Tyrrell Hatton.
The Italian Open kicks off Thursday just outside of Rome, and the cost for general admission is precisely zero euros. Free-ninety-nine, as the kids like to say. Zero dollars, if you’re struggling with the exchange rate. Better yet, the course hosting the event is the same course you’ll surely see those four players competing on 12 months from now at the 2023 Ryder Cup.
Marco Simone Golf & Country Club is the host site, and one that McIlroy and many other pros haven’t played yet. One year from now, we’ll all want to know what to expect from this track, so how McIlroy and his future Ryder Cup teammates play seems extremely relevant. Almost as relevant as the price it’ll cost you to do it.
You can count on one hand the number of events you can watch McIlroy for free at, and you might be able to do it on one finger. It’s just extremely rare that sort access is given away for nothing in return. Italy may not be a country brimming with golf fans, but those who are will be getting the full treat this week. All they have to do is register online at this site.
The Ryder Cup vibes are sure to start in full. McIlroy doesn’t play a ton of events in Europe these days, but needs to meet a minimum to retain his membership. This is one of those weeks where he’s doing his part to lift the DP World Tour and ensure he’s on the team in 2023. Is it plausible he’ll play alongside Fitz, Hatton or Hovland? We’ll go further to say it’s rather likely. Team Europe began dishing out qualifying points last week at Wentworth, and who just happens to be in the field this week? Thomas Bjorn, Edoardo Molinari and Luke Donald — the current crop of European captains tasked with figuring out who will be paired with whom, who makes sense in four-balls vs. foursomes, etc.
Next year’s Ryder Cup tickets lottery was just opened as well, and tickets for it are never cheap. But for exactly zero dollars, you could go analyze what the important holes are out at Marco Simone. You could go watch McIlroy as he tries to overpower a short par-4. You might see defending Nicolai Højgaard auditioning for a spot on next fall’s team. Same goes for the long-bombing Spaniard Adri Arnaus. And for Scotland’s Bob MacIntyre. For the Italian crowd, Francesco Molinari will be on hand, as will rising star Guido Migliozzi.
Does this read as an advertisement for the Italian Open? Good! It should. Any company giving away Rory McIlroy lessons for free should be commended. Take them up on it. And if those high-profile names don’t quite do it for you, might I suggest Eddie Pepperell, who would love to see you out there in support.