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Nine of 12 U.S. Ryder Cuppers get first looks at Marco Simone

Nine of the 12 U.S. Ryder Cuppers got their first looks at this year’s venue, Marco Simone Golf and Country Club, on Saturday.

According to The Associated Press, all but Jordan Spieth, Patrick Cantlay and Xander Schauffele flew to Rome on Friday evening for a 36-hole scouting trip. U.S. captain Zach Johnson told the AP of their absences, the three missing team members “have family matters that definitely supersede what we’re doing.” Spieth’s wife, Annie, is about to give birth to their second child while Cantlay and Schauffele aren’t in Rome because of “prior family commitments,” the PGA of America’s Julius Mason told the AP.

The DP World Tour’s Italian Open has been contested at Marco Simone each of the past three years, though no Americans on Johnson’s squad have played it. That’s compared to this year’s European team, which has two players – Robert MacIntyre and Nicolai Hojgaard – who have won at Marco Simone and another pair – Tommy Fleetwood and Matt Fitzpatrick – who have been runner-up on the layout.

Between Saturday practice rounds, Johnson commented on his players’ initial impressions. He added that the team is playing in carts, as just two caddies made the trip.

“The common sentiments that I heard on the golf course was they really liked it, which is awesome, and I knew they would because Marco Simone is very, very good,” Johnson said. “The rough was very thick. That was the other nugget that we talked about a lot. The putting greens were very good, very true, very nice. The fairways were awesome. It’s a great test and it’s a really, really good match-play golf course. So the guys are excited about the competition.”

Team Europe will hold a scouting trip of their own at Marco Simone on Monday.