Luke Donald Makes Big Decision Ahead of Ryder Cup
Luke Donald is hoping that history will repeat itself in Italy this week. Incredibly, the USA have not won the Ryder Cup on European soil for 30 years but thrashed Padraig Harrington’s team 19-9 at Whistling Straits two years ago.
From a European perspective, it wasn’t pretty to watch. Historically, Europe have the upper hand in foursomes so Donald has opted to kick off this year’s contest with that format, hoping it will give his men a fast start.
Since 1993, Europe have always opted to kick off with the fourballs, with mixed results.
Donald said: “Having spoken to the players, it was decided that foursomes was the best way to go. It's really just a deep dive into statistics of the team. We feel like we have some strong foursomes pairings. We feel like we are just slightly stronger statistically in foursomes to fourballs.
"In Ryder Cups, you want to get off to an early lead. We have an opportunity to send out four strong pairings and hopefully grab an early lead."
The home side gets to choose whether to start the first session with four foursomes or four fourball matches, with the other format following in the afternoon session. Saturday sees two more sessions of the team matches before Sunday's 12 singles.
The US have favoured the alternate shot format where each pair uses one ball. Europe, since 1997, have always opened with fourballs, where each player uses their own ball with the best score winning the hole.
Donald said "nothing is set in stone" over who will play with who when play gets under way on Friday morning, but you can be sure he already knows his pairings.
He also added that statistics are playing a significant part in helping him and his vice-captains select their pairings, highlighting in particular the work Italy's Edoardo Molinari has been doing for a "number of years".
"He's worked with and still working with a number of players both on the DP World Tour and the PGA Tour," said Donald.
"He works with a few guys specifically on the stats. He understands from a player standpoint, too, having played a Ryder Cup himself, the pressure and everything that goes towards it.
"He knows that numbers can make a difference. Certainly we are relying on Edoardo and his numbers, [although] not 100%, to make all our decisions. All our decisions come from instinct and gut as well as statistics."
Donald has also been able to turn a raft of statistics from the past three Italian Opens, which were all played at Marco Simone.
The 2021 and 2022 Italian Open winners, Nicolai Hojgaard and Robert MacIntyre respectively, are in Europe's team, although Poland's Adrian Meronk, who triumphed here in May, was not named as one of Donald’s wild card picks.
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