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Ryder Cup 2023: Who could feature for Team Europe and who is struggling to qualify for Rome?

Robert MacIntyre returns as defending champion at the Italian Open, taking place at Marco Simone Golf Club ahead of the Ryder Cup being held at the same venue in September; Watch the Italian Open and Wells Fargo Championship live this week on Sky Sports Golf

The Ryder Cup may be nearly five months away, but this week’s tournaments could have a big say in who features for Team Europe this autumn in Rome.

Rory McIlroy headlines the Wells Fargo Championship, a tournament he has won three times, with several of his likely Ryder Cup teammates also in the field for the latest in the PGA Tour's elevated events.

The DS Automobiles Italian Open on the DP World Tour takes place at Marco Simone Golf Club for the third successive year, with this season's event having added significance because of the course also hosting the Ryder Cup this September.

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World Number 26 Tommy Fleetwood says all golfers look forward to the Ryder Cup, as it's a special time for the players

The year-long qualification campaign began last autumn and runs through until this September, when three automatic qualifiers from the European Points List and the same number from the World Points List joining six captain's picks to make up Luke Donald's team.

Captain Donald is in action in Italy, along with vice-captains Thomas Bjorn, Edoardo Molinari and Nicolas Colsaerts, with the quartet having the opportunity to cast their eye over some of those trying to play their way into Team Europe consideration.

Who could impress in Italy?

Robert MacIntyre returns as defending champion after last year's play-off victory over Matt Fitzpatrick, with the Scot in impressive form with top-seven finishes in his last three DP World Tour starts.

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Highlights from last year's Italian Open, where Robert MacIntyre impressed to claim a play-off victory

Victor Perez is fourth on the European Points List thanks to his victory at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, while Jorge Campillo is just behind him after winning the Hero Indian Open, with both part involved in Italy this week.

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Open de France winner Guido Migliozzi will be targeting a Ryder Cup debut on home soil and Andalucia Masters champion Adrian Otaegui will look to move further up the European Points List, with Adrian Meronk and Antoine Rozner looking to build on victories earlier in the season.

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2021 champion Nicolai Hojgaard is back in DP World Tour action after a recent stint on the PGA Tour, where he finished runner-up at the Corales Puntacana Championship, with twin brother Rasmus Hojgaard also involved after posting top-20 finishes in his first three starts of the year.

Who is currently in the qualification spots?

Jon Rahm tops the European Points List after an impressive start to the qualification campaign, following a runner-up finish at the BMW PGA Championship in September by winning the Open de Espana on home soil and securing the season-ending DP World Tour Championship.

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The Spaniard extended his advantage with his major win at The Masters, while the four victories he has already amassed in 2023 also sees him ahead of Rory McIlroy on the World Points List.

McIlroy sits second in both standings after a strong finish to the 2022 Race to Dubai season, where he finished no worse than fourth his last four appearances, with the Northern Irishman enjoying victories on both tours in recent months at the CJ Cup and the Hero Dubai Desert Classic.

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Highlights from the final round of the Hero Dubai Desert Classic at the Emirates Golf Club.

The surprise player currently sitting in the third automatic qualification spot on the European Points List is Germany's Yannik Paul, who won the Mallorca Golf Open in October and posted back-to-back runner-up finishes on the DP World Tour in March.

US Open champion Matt Fitzpatrick's recent PGA Tour victory at the RBC Heritage moved him to third in the World Points List, despite a disappointing run of results in recent months, while Viktor Hovland is next in the automatic spots after strong performances at The Players and The Masters.

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Matt Fitzpatrick beat defending champion Jordan Spieth on the third hole of a play-off to win the RBC Heritage.

The other player currently in an automatic qualification place via the World Points List is Tyrrell Hatton, who enjoyed strong performances at the WM Phoenix Open and Arnold Palmer Invitational before finishing runner-up to Scottie Scheffler at The Players.

Who is close to the qualification places?

Shane Lowry sits just outside the automatic spots on both lists thanks to his victory at the BMW PGA Championship in September, the opening event of Ryder Cup qualification campaign, although the Irishman has managed just one worldwide top-10 since his victory at Wentworth.

Justin Rose's win at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am and Seamus Power's success at the Bermuda Championship moved them up the standings, with England's Matt Wallace another player who has won a title on the PGA Tour this season.

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David Howell expects Justin Rose to receive a Ryder Cup call from Luke Donald after his win at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am

A run of three consecutive worldwide top-five finishes boosted Alex Noren's hopes of making a second appearance for Team Europe, with Tommy Fleetwood inside the top-10 in both standings after his victory at the Nedbank Golf Challenge in November.

Which players are struggling to qualify?

Francesco Molinari has featured on three winning Ryder Cup teams and won all five of his matches during the 2018 victory at Le Golf National, although the Italian needs a drastic upturn in results if he is to feature for Team Europe on home soil.

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Molinari has missed the cut in five of his last seven worldwide starts and is without a victory since the 2019 Arnold Palmer Invitational, while 2016 player Danny Willett is also currently set to miss out after failing to register a top-10 since his runner-up finish at September's Fortinet Championship.

Thorbjorn Olesen - part of the 2018 team - won the Thailand Classic but is still a long way outside the automatic qualification place, with Austria's Sepp Straka currently 15th on the World Points List.

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Paul McGinley says the psychology of being within a team in an otherwise individual sport is extremely important for Ryder Cup preparation.

2016 players Rafa Cabrera Bello and Andy Sullivan have dropped down both qualification lists, while Thomas Pieters - who top-scored for Europe in Hazeltine - has fallen out of contention since joining the LIV Golf League at the start of the season.

Five of Europe's losing team in 2021 have also switched to LIV, limiting the number of events where they can qualification points to qualify, meaning the likes of Ian Poulter and Henrik Stenson are likely to miss out on featuring in Donald's team.

Watch the DS Automobiles Italian Open and the Wells Fargo Championship this week live on Sky Sports. Live coverage from the Italian Open begins on Thursday from 12.30pm on Sky Sports Golf, while early coverage from the Wells Fargo Championship live via the red button from 12.45pm.

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