Sept. 25-Oct. 1, 2023 Marco Simone Golf & Country Club, Rome, Italy

Lee Westwood is happy to be back playing at the Ryder Cup as he prepares to make a record-equalling 11th appearance in the biennial showpiece.

The 48-year-old will tie Sir Nick Faldo’s record of 11 Ryder Cups this week when he returns to Team Europe's playing staff, having been a Vice Captain under Thomas Bjørn at Le Golf National three years ago.

The Englishman admitted having doubts as to whether he would get another chance to represent Europe as a player, but after grabbing one of the last automatic qualification places in Pádraig Harrington's Team, he is looking forward to playing his part this week.

He said: "I enjoyed being a Vice Captain. I enjoyed watching the guys play and obviously performing very well, but it does give you a taste that you want to still be involved.

"As the years go on and you get a little bit older, you don't know whether you're going to play Ryder Cup again.

"It's obviously nice to be back holding the clubs again rather than other people. I said to the lads in the team room three years ago, 'There's one thing worse than playing Ryder Cup practice rounds, and that's watching somebody else do it'.

"So it's nice to not be watching somebody else do it and doing it myself again."

This week's visitors have adopted a heritage numbering system for all players to have represented Europe in the historic event.

Westwood, who made his debut in 1997, has the lowest number on this year's Team - 118 - while rookies Viktor Hovland, Shane Lowry and Bernd Wiesberger are the newest members of the elite group of 164 men who have played for Team Europe.

"There's 164 players that have represented Europe," added Westwood. "You have a far greater chance of going into space or climbing Mount Everest than you have of representing Europe in the Ryder Cup.

"We've all got numbers. Mine is the smallest number, obviously, 118. But yeah, it's something to be very proud of, being able to pull on the clothing with the European team crest on it."

Another experienced member of Team Europe is Spaniard Sergio Garcia, the competition’s all time record points scorer with 25½.

KOHLER, WISCONSIN - SEPTEMBER 21: Sergio Garcia of Spain and team Europe (R) adjusts the hair of Matthew Fitzpatrick of England and team Europe during a team photo shoot prior to the 43rd Ryder Cup at Whistling Straits on September 21, 2021 in Kohler, Wisconsin. (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)
Photo Credit: Andrew Redington/Getty Images

Garcia, making his tenth appearance at the Ryder Cup after Harrington gave him one of his wildcard berths, insists his past achievements in the competition count for nothing the second he reaches the first tee.

He said: "I don't think it means anything once you step up there.

"To be totally honest, I wasn't really aware until Sunday three years ago in Paris because it's never been a goal of mine. Don't get me wrong, I'm very proud of it and it's something that obviously I'm going to have at least the rest of my life personally, but once you step on that first tee it's not about you, it's about the team.

"The most important thing is that Europe play well, that we give ourselves the best chance to win the Cup, and that's the goal."

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