By Angelo Amante
September 29, 2023 – 5:02 AM PDT
ROME, Sept 29 (Reuters) – Fans from across Europe and the United States travelled to Rome in high spirits for the 44th Ryder Cup, enjoying warm weather and bringing a blaze of color to the Eternal City as the action got underway on Friday.
U.S. supporters could be seen in stars-and-striped trousers and hats with American eagles sticking out from the top, while their European counterparts created a sea of blue of yellow as they wandered around the fans village at the Marco Simone Golf and Country Club.
It is the first time the event has been held in Italy, attracting a host of local fans alongside more regular visitors from afar.
“It is amazing, the vibe and energy is incredible,” Matt Williams, who flew to Italy from California to watch his first Ryder Cup, told Reuters as he walked inside the gigantic merchandise shop in the fan village.
With queues of 100m almost all day during the week, the shop stocks the usual array of U.S. and European-themed shirts, hats, flags and towels, but also offers wines from the central Italian region of Tuscany and southern Puglia.
The atmosphere gradually built in the early morning in anticipation of the foursomes, which Europe went on to win with a 4-0 sweep.
“This is my eighth Ryder Cup, we are veterans,” said Andy Nichol, who came with his friends from England and had British flags all over his suit, including on his tie and hat.
The venue serves meals including fish and chips and typical Roman street food such as ‘pizza con la mortazza,’ a plain pizza sprinkled with salt and stuffed with mortadella, an Italian sausage.
While many American fans felt the food and drinks were fairly priced considering the popularity of the event, visitors from Europe voiced some criticism.
A small bottle of water cost 4 euros ($4.24), while a fish and chips meal with an alcoholic drink was 28 euros, and a gin and tonic cost 25 euros.
“It is expensive,” said Nick Easter, a British fan who along with his friend Tim Hollis was wearing a Donald Duck shirt as a tribute to Europe captain Luke Donald.
However, visitors generally agreed the Marco Simone was a fine course, the event was well organized and the Ryder Cup was different from any other golf tournament.
“It is very good, very well organized,” said Kerrie, who travelled to Italy from Ireland with her friend Jackie and their husbands.