The 2023 Ryder Cup captains have gone head to head in Rome for the very first time

Luke Donald and Zach Johnson have kickstarted their 2023 Ryder Cup rivalry by competing in a special challenge at Marco Simone to mark the countdown to the tournament getting officially underway.

With one year to go until Team Europe take on Team USA in Rome, captains Donald and Johnson led two teams of Italian elite junior and disabled golfers in a special challenge at Marco Simone โ€“ the host venue of next yearโ€™s event.

Getting a taste for what promises to be an enthralling rivalry, the friendly contest helped launch the Ryder Cup Year To Go celebrations as Donald and Johnson went head to head in Italy for the very first time.

Featuring 12 members of the Italian Golf Federationโ€™s under 18 team and four members of the elite disabled team, the four-hole match fittingly ended in a draw at Marco Simone as 300 local school children watched on.

โ€œThe Ryder Cup is a huge deal in golf.โ€ Donald said โ€“ who was appointed captain of Team Europe after Henrik Stenson was dismissed from the role earlier this year.

โ€œIt is our biggest team event which brings in viewers who donโ€™t even play golf because of the great rivalry and history. So today is a great way to start the Year To Go and tell people what an amazing event the Ryder Cup is.โ€

Following the festivities, Donald and Johnson will turn their attentions to gauging their own squads ahead of the 2023 Ryder Cup.

Matching Team USA in having six captainโ€™s picks for next yearโ€™s biennial event, Donald will be hoping to build a squad capable of overcoming Europeโ€™s damaging defeat at Whistling Straits one year ago.

George Cooper

A golf fanatic his entire life, George Cooper is NCG's man for all goings-on at the top level of the game, whether it's the PGA Tour, DP World Tour, LPGA or LIV Golf. He also looks after NCG's Twitter and Facebook accounts. George is a member of Woburn, but is not friends with Ian Poulter.

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