Ben Coley profiles the 12 members of Europe's Ryder Cup team, including their individual records broken down by format.
The reigning Masters champion has come a long, long way since making his Ryder Cup debut in 2018, when sent out in the very first match but made to wait until the fourth session for his second, then picking up his first point with a coming-of-age victory over Tiger Woods.
Three years passed until his second appearance, Rahm becoming a major winner in the interim, and he was Europe's star man having earned 3.5 points from five matches, beaten only in the singles by a rampant Scottie Scheffler. He partnered with Sergio Garcia for three wins that week and Garcia's absence means Rahm has been paired with only two members of this team: Justin Rose (2018) and Tyrrell Hatton (2021), losing with Rose and halving with Hatton.
Finding the right partner will be necessary to keep alive his perfect foursomes record but expect Rahm to play a vital role across all formats. Will he feature in match one on day one for the third time in as many appearances, perhaps with Hatton once more?
The last image of McIlroy in Ryder Cup action comes courtesy of a tearful interview following his singles victory over Xander Schauffele at Whistling Straits, where Europe's biggest name lost all three pairs matches by heavy margins. It means that he now owns a 12-12-4 record virtually split across all three formats, with fourballs his worst return and singles, unsurprisingly, his best.
McIlroy left that 2021 renewal desperate for another crack and this is a fantastic course for him, so following another year of consistently excellent golf, he'll have every chance to make amends. The key question is, who will he be paired with? No doubt McIlroy benefited from playing with Ian Poulter in 2014 but not so last time, while his desire to partner a rookie in session one proved costly in both 2016 and 2018.
Still, he may wish to take on that role again and there are some mouthwatering combinations in this raw, powerful, exciting line-up. McIlroy's best partner so far was Thomas Pieters seven years ago. It's hard to avoid dreaming of something similar with another young stud and having spoken about the need for such players to come through, he'll be thrilled to partner any one of them.
While Rahm wasn't a key man for Europe on his debut and McIlroy perhaps only played all four sessions because of a disrupted schedule at Celtic Manor, the latest young star to emerge was sent to the well five times at Whistling Straits. It didn't go exactly to plan, Hovland failing to win any of his matches but at least ending with a spirited half against old college rival Collin Morikawa.
Two years on and he's had a breakout year, winning the FedEx Cup in sensational fashion. His chipping and pitching still isn't a strength but it's not so much of a weakness now and there is no more reliable ball-striker in this side, nor anyone who can be as satisfied with their overall body of work from spring onwards.
Hovland's partnership with Tommy Fleetwood in 2021 showed promise, the pair sharing a fourball point and taking their other match down the 18th, while he paired up with Ludvig Aberg in a recent scouting trip to beat Fleetwood and McIlroy. An interchangeable pod, perhaps? Certainly, Hovland and Aberg look a likely partnership and one we should see on day one.
It's fair to say Fitzpatrick's Ryder Cup career has been a disaster so far. He's played twice, both away from home, both heavy defeats. He's scored zero points from five matches and the latest of them ended horribly, his mishit approach to the final hole sealing a record win for the USA.
Since then, he's become a major champion thanks largely to improved driving and, a play-off loser at Marco Simone last year, the course is a good one for him. He's found form after a quiet summer, too, and having joked about his lack of fourballs experience at the Zurich Classic of New Orleans, is surely set to play in that format on day one for the first time in his Ryder Cup career.
Fitzpatrick has certainly had a raw deal so far, made to wait until Saturday for his first go in 2016 and, throughout both that and the 2021 edition, paired with an out-of-sorts veteran before being sent out last in the singles. This time, if he goes out in the final match it might not be because he's struggling, but because his captain wants a proven winner to bring it home should things get tight.
Hatton made his debut in 2018 when forming a chirpy bond with Paul Casey, the pair winning one of their two matches before Hatton got the rough draw on Sunday against a disgruntled Patrick Reed, who beat him convincingly.
Paired with Rahm and then Casey at Whistling Straits, he bagged his second full point when switching to Shane Lowry on Saturday evening, both of them playing a part albeit Lowry taking the lead role. They were probably quite well drawn in hindsight, which again wasn't the case for Hatton on Sunday where he suffered a heavy defeat to Justin Thomas.
Whichever way you dress it, he does have a little bit to prove for now. How does that temper of his work in a pairs environment? Can he overcome a losing record in singles? Perhaps the Hero Cup will help on the latter, Hatton among the most impressive singles winners albeit in a losing GB and Ireland side back in January, and contending at Wentworth was a nice way to return to form.
Although he wasn't the final qualifier chronologically speaking, there's no doubt that of the six it was MacIntyre whose place was in doubt until mathematically secure. Who knows whether Luke Donald would have selected him had he not held on, but MacIntyre would've been unfortunate to miss out given that he'd all but won the Scottish Open before McIlroy's sensational finish.
The Scot now makes his Ryder Cup debut having missed out narrowly in 2021, which could prove to be a blessing in disguise. Not that he couldn't have handled an away match, but playing in Rome, on the course where he captured the Italian Open with the round of his life, makes for a less intense introduction to a competition he looks made for.
Yes, his volatility is more pronounced than some of his peers; his bad golf can be worse than perhaps every other player in the event or, in dataspeak, his floor is lower. But MacIntyre is also a prolific birdie-maker who doesn't fear anyone and that could make him dangerous in fourballs, which is where we might see him first of all.
One half of the awesome Moliwood partnership, Fleetwood's winning record owes everything to that sensational week in Paris. Since ending it with a singles defeat to Tony Finau, he's gone 0-1-1 with Hovland and then halved a singles match with Jordan Spieth when the game was already up for Europe.
Still, given that Fleetwood wasn't in the best of form prior to the last Ryder Cup, to avoid defeat twice in three matches suggests that he really does have the makings of an event specialist. His consistency and levelheadedness are big assets in the format, making him an ideal partner for just about anyone, although it's interesting that he's been paired exclusively with those who share his generally calm demeanour.
Without doubt, 2023 has been his best season since 2019 with all aspects of his game firing, and should he pair with Hovland again they might well form a vital partnership. Two of Europe's most in-form men are also two of their most unrelenting from tee-to-green and while headline writers will hope for FleetwoodMac, perhaps Fleetland or Hovwood is what's coming.
It's been a somewhat quiet 2023 for Lowry, who switched caddies towards the start of it, and some felt he was fortunate to be included. Perhaps that's true, but this is one of Europe's major winners, one of their better performers at Whistling Straits and a man made for the big occasion. Lowry doesn't win often, but when he does it's a significant one – similar logic could make him a Ryder Cup star.
Now, it must be said that he did only win one of three matches in 2021, when paired with Hatton. However, Lowry was let down by McIlroy in the first session and ran into a relentless Patrick Cantlay on Sunday. The way he led Hatton to that point to keep fading hopes alive is what stands out and is exactly why any doubt among outside observers were not felt within the team.
His top-three at the K Club prior to a good Wentworth title defence has Lowry fresh and in-form and whatever he does on the course, he'll be an enormous asset to Europe off it, too. Partner options are manifold, with Fleetwood his closest friend on the circuit and therefore making some sense.
Rose is back in the side thanks to a resurgent 2023 having been nowhere near qualifying for Whistling Straits. He wasn't far off this time and while his best form came back in spring and early summer, there were clear signs of encouragement during the FedEx Cup Playoffs and he hit the ball really well at Wentworth.
That Pebble Beach victory in February just about sealed the deal on its own and Rose's experience counts for something. He's only been paired with Rahm so far among this team but the most fascinating aspect of his profile is the big foursomes question. Historically it's been his strength, but has he done enough to justify inclusion in the most demanding format this time around?
On that we'll have to find out but Rose has lost just two of nine matches on home soil overall and it's not beyond him to rise to the occasion on what he'll know could well be his final Ryder Cup appearance.
Straka secured his wildcard selection with the way he played in July, winning the John Deere Classic and finishing runner-up in the Open to demand inclusion despite what had been an up-and-down year to that point.
And that's really what you get with Straka: no guarantees, but the potential for something exceptional, as we saw with a storming finish to capture his second PGA Tour and with top-10s not just in the Open, but the PGA Championship, too.
One of the shorter hitters on the team but a superb iron player at his best and capable of hot runs on the greens, Straka could be a deadly opponent. He could also be a point of weakness, and I'd expect Donald to send him out in fourballs as he doesn't look an obvious foursomes fit given the nature of his game, even if he's shown a good level of form lately.
Golf's worst-kept secret before turning professional back in June, when it felt as though the Ryder Cup would come too soon for Aberg. But then Donald played with him in Detroit and was so wowed by what he saw that Aberg was encouraged to come to Europe in August and state his case. He did so emphatically by winning the European Masters in style, before struggling in the final round at Wentworth when threatening to double up.
Who knows whether Aberg would've been selected even had he played modestly in the Czech Republic and Switzerland. What we do know is he stepped up when it mattered, and that since joining the paid ranks he's been the best driver in world golf. Combine that with improved approach work in Crans and you see what damage can be done – he putted worse than average and won by two shots at a course where experience is meant to count.
So far, everything has gone pretty seamlessly and Aberg might just take this in his stride, too. Then again we have to remember that some brilliant players have been brought to their knees by this event. If Aberg can be a key man for Europe, we really are talking about the real deal. And at a course where driver is vital, a key man he might just prove to be.
Although he's not quite made the impression of Aberg, much of the above applies to Hojgaard, who earned selection despite not winning during the qualification window – the only European to be afforded that luxury.
Some would argue he was fortunate to be given the nod ahead of Adrian Meronk, but Hojgaard outperformed the Pole in August and that perhaps was the difference. Both are exceptional off the tee, both had course wins, both played well in the Open, but it was Hojgaard who kicked on.
The Hero Cup was also in his favour having top-scored for Europe and for that he has his twin brother to thank. Rasmus was meant to play instead only to withdraw injured, allowing Nicolai to begin his journey to Rome. This is the kind of company in which he belongs and if anyone on the other side underestimates him, they might be made to look silly.