Novak Djokovic, Gareth Bale and Carlos Sainz were among the celebrities who turned out in a Ryder Cup ‘All Stars’ match ahead of the main event in Rome on Wednesday.
Colin Montgomerie and Corey Pavin, opposing captains at Celtic Manor in 2010, reprised their rivalry in a contest between two teams of six over seven holes at Marco Simone.
The competition provided some additional entertainment for the crowd as players from the European and United States teams continued to practice ahead of the 44th Ryder Cup, which begins on Friday.
Djokovic, who won a record-extending 24th grand slam at the US Open earlier this month, and Wales record goalscorer Bale were members of the triumphant ‘Team Monty’, which won 7-4.
Djokovic, who partnered leading disability golfer Kipp Popert in his four-ball match, said: “It’s a great honour to be here. It was something I will marvel and cherish for a very long time.
“Obviously I am much more comfortable hitting a tennis ball with my racket but I don’t think I did too badly today, I hit some good shots and had some good holes.”
The Serb is expected to speak to the European team prior to the start of the Ryder Cup.
“Now I am staying for a few days,” he said. “I have to experience this unique atmosphere. At 7am on Friday, I hear it is this incredible noise.”
— Ryder Cup (@rydercup) September 27, 2023
Former Real Madrid and Tottenham star Bale, who has become a regular on the pro-am golf circuit since retiring after last year’s World Cup, emphasised the importance of team play in what is normally an individual sport.
He said: “You aren’t playing just for yourself, you are playing for your country, your continent. You have to put your ego to one side and its all about the team, doing your best for the team, whether you win or lose.”
Ferrari Formula One driver Sainz, whose team-mates on the day included 2004 Ballon d’Or winner Andriy Shevchenko and Victor Cruz, a Super Bowl champion with New York Giants, said: “I had a lot of fun.
“It was an incredible feeling to play in front of so many people on such a cool golf course.”