European Captain Luke Donald is going with statistics over history at the Ryder Cup
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Written by Associated Press
GUIDONIA MONTECELIO, Italy -- In the eternal city steeped in history, at a Ryder Cup packed with nearly a century of golf, European Captain Luke Donald figures his best bet lies with modern-day statistical data.
As captain of the home team, Donald has the final say in how Marco Simone Golf & Country Club is set up and the order of play. Dating back to 1997, Europe has started the Ryder Cup with Four-balls.
This year, Donald is going with Foursomes, the format toughest for scoring because players alternate shots. Coincidentally, the last time Europe began a home Ryder Cup with Foursomes was in 1993. That was also the last time Europe lost at home.
“Pretty simple, really,” Donald said Monday. “We feel like as a team, statistically we are stronger in Foursomes within our team than we would be in Four-balls. Why not get off to a fast start? That's it.”
And that was about all there was to say in an opening news conference of the captains, a day of light practice, rest for the Americans who flew overnight and high hopes for both teams.
Among the unusual sights was Scottie Scheffler working with putting guru Phil Kenyon. Scheffler's putting has come under intense scrutiny over the last four months.
Eleven of the Americans gathered in Atlanta on Sunday evening for the overnight flight. The other was Brooks Koepka, who was playing in a tournament in the Chicago suburbs.
“He actually beat us here,” U.S. captain Zach Johnson said. “But for him to fly from Chicago to Atlanta, and for us to wait to him, we would have gotten in a lot later. I don't think it was even feasible. So he met us here.”
A notable name missing from the 44th Ryder Cup is Tiger Woods, who is recovering from ankle surgery. He wasn't at Whistling Straits in 2021 but was in constant touch through texting motivational messages to not let up as the U.S. romped to a 19-9 victory. Zach Johnson said he leaned on him in the months leading up to formulating the team.
“He understands that now that our feet are on the ground, it’s probably kind of best that we navigate this ourselves,” Johnson said.
“When it comes to the week of the tournament, if you’re not in on it and inside the team room, inside the ropes, shoulder to shoulder with these guys, it’s not fair to ask him questions,” Johnson said. “He can give us insights -- don’t get me wrong. At the same time, I don’t know if that’s proper and I think he would understand completely.”