The stars of this year’s Ryder Cup walked down Rome’s famous Spanish Steps on Wednesday – days before teeing off in the famous golfing competition.
Europe’s star man, Rory McIlroy, was there with wife Erica Stoll, along with captain Luke Donald and his wife Diane Antonopoulos.
Team USA captain Zach Johnson also led his team down the famous steps, accompanied by wife, Kim Barclay.
The couple posed alongside Johnson’s teammates with the Ryder Cup, which Team USA will be hoping to retain following their comprehensive 19-9 win in Wisconsin in 2021.
However, amid the excitement in Rome, there were a number of notable missing faces following the split involving the new Saudi-funded LIV Golf League.
Ryder Cup favourite Ian Poulter will not play in this year’s competition having made the switch, while Lee Westwood, who has been part of every Ryder Cup since his debut in 1997, will also not feature.
Spain’s Sergio Garcia – another Ryder Cup favourite – will also not take to the course this weekend, despite a last-ditch attempt to make good with the European tour and get to Rome.
“It’s certainly a little strange not having them around,” McIlroy said.
“But I think this week of all weeks, it’s going to hit home with them that they are not here.
“I think they are going to miss being here more than we’re missing them.”
There may still be a way back for the stars, with The European tour and PGA Tour having entered a partnership with the Saudi Arabian national wealth fund that pays for LIV Golf.
However, the proposed commercial entity still has to be finalised and approved.
The Americans have already gone through the LIV effect, having played the Presidents Cup last year without Dustin Johnson and Bryson DeChambeau, Patrick Reed being eligible to qualify or having Phil Mickelson available as a vice-captain.
The 2024 Ryder Cup – the 44th in the competition’s 96-year history – is being played at the Marco Simone Golf and Country Club in Rome.
It will begin on Friday and Saturday with the foursome and fourball matches, followed by the singles games on Sunday.