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Rory McIlroy, Matthew Fitzpatrick, Viktor Hovland. All three are in Rome this week for the DS Automobiles Italian Open, and all three will, almost certainly, return to Marco Simone for next year’s Ryder Cup.

That week, Luke Donald’s European team will look rather different to that of the 2021 team  that got savaged in Whistling Straits. Five of that squad have since made the switch to LIV Golf and will most likely never pull on the European colours in a Ryder Cup again.

While it leaves spaces to be filled in the team, those who haven’t completely blocked out the memory of 2021 will agree that isn’t the worst thing.

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Donald and his vice captains may well look to others playing this week in Italy to fill the empty berths and if they want to build for the future, two of those names should be pencilled in rather firmly already.

Rasmus and Nicolai Højgaard are both in the field this week, and both represent the best of European golf. The 21-year-old twins are both prodigiously long from the tee, have multiple DP World Tour wins to their name, and might just make a formidable matchplay pairing.

Speaking to bunkered earlier in the year, Rasmus, the younger by a couple of minutes, was frank about his hopes for the competition.

“It’s one of Nicolai and I’s biggest goals at the moment,” he said.

“That’s a long way away but it’s definitely something we want to do together. That would be quite cool.

“I’m not sure how we would prepare for the pressure of a first tee shot but Nicolai and myself played a lot of matchplay as amateurs, and we always enjoyed that.”

Rasmus Putting

Indeed, the identical pairing competed in the same Danish team growing up, and even made an appearance together in the 2018 Junior Ryder Cup.

“You always have people saying you need to play a course a certain way,” Rasmus continued. 

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“They might tell you to play it out to the dog-leg and play from there but when you’re driving the ball well, why not just hit it over the trees?

“When Nicolai and myself are hitting the ball well, that’s the same mindset we have.

“It’s sometimes nice to have that aggressive mindset. If I make a double or whatever, it’s no matter. You can take on certain shots that you couldn’t in strokeplay.”

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If you had to build a golf course for the Danish twins, Marco Simone might just be the place. Nicolai won here last year, and with his length off the tee, it’s no surprise he found this long, soft layout to his liking.

“My long driving is my biggest asset,” Nicolai explained. 

“It’s my weapon and my biggest asset. That’s what my game is built on. If I’m good with the driver, I’ll have a lot of short approach shots and I can take advantage of the par-5s.”

Rasmus Hojgaard Wedge

Last week, the new-look qualification process for the team got underway at Wentworth. That will run for the next 12 months until three weeks before the contest gets underway. That process will see the top three from the European points list, and the top three from the World points list automatically secure qualification.

Then, crucially, Donald and his vice captains will have another six spots to fill. These captain’s picks will be crucial to Europe’s chances. 

The fearlessness that comes with the youth of the Højgaard twins was severely lacking in Europe’s last showing. They, along with a growing contingent of European talent, can breath new life into a Ryder Cup team that certainly needs it.

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Lewis Fraser As bunkered’s Performance Editor, Lewis oversees the content that’s designed to make you a better player. From the latest gear to tuition, nutrition, strategy and more, he’s the man. A graduate of the University of Stirling, Lewis joined bunkered in 2021. Formerly a caddie at Castle Stuart Golf Links, he is a member of Bathgate Golf Club where he plays off four.

Performance Editor

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