Our Ryder Cup recap content continues with Soly and TC interviewing European assistant captain and analytics guru Edoardo Molinari.
We get into his first explorations into golf data and analytics during his own professional career, his experience helping Luke Donald form the partnerships that were so successful in Rome, how he viewed some of the decisions from the American team, the atmosphere in the team room after the heated ending to Saturday's matches and a ton more.
(3:40) Team Europe post-Whistling Straits
(7:19) How Edoardo was brought on board, how his experience contributed, his penchant for data
(14:45) Combining course setup with player selection, influencing pairings
(30:23) Neutral setups?
(33:23) DP World Tour involvement in building pairings
(45:44) How Team Europe responded to Team US + Edoardo's thoughts on Team US
(50:09) On Ludvig Aberg
(57:29) Team room atmosphere on Saturday night after LaCava vs. McIlroy, any nerves after Team US gained momentum
(1:00:34) Edoardo's future as a captain? How does captain selection work?
(1:03:20) Looking to Bethpage, summing up Luke Donald's leadership
Here's a sneak peek at Soly and TC's convo with Edoardo...(Note: Full answers edited for clarity and conciseness.)
Soly: You mentioned guys being good for foursomes and good for four Ball. What makes those profiles fit? I cannot dive any harder into the Ryder Cup and I still don't think I have any understanding of how you identify who those guys are. In your mind, how do you identify who's good at foursomes and who's good at four ball?
Edoardo Molinari: Again, four ball is basically just making birdies. So whoever is making the most number of birdies is good in four balls. And then we had a little, not secret, something that I'm going not gonna disclose to make sure that we can -- two players that can make the same number of birdies, but then you want to kind of mix 'em up a little bit.
Then in foursomes, it's a bit more complex. So I started to kind of develop a system where basically we could have, let's say Rory playing with Tommy and then Rory will hit the tee shot on the first. We know exactly how many times he's gonna hit the fairway and how far he's gonna be. So then from there, Tommy is gonna hit the second shot. And we know his dispersion and strokes gained from each distance range. How many times does he hit it inside 10 feet and then Rory hits the putt and then you just keep going.
You make them play 18 holes on a kind of a simulation and then you get an expected score and then you flip them. So all of a sudden Tommy hits the first, then Rory hits the second shot into the first, and then you do the same for all possible combinations. And we could do it I mean we looked at - I think we were looking at like 25-30 players. All of a sudden you had some players that were very good in foursomes for different reasons. One player could be very good because he hits a lot of fairways. One player could be very good because even holes it's important to putt very well. So like he could be a great foursome player.
For example, Ludvig was great because he's obviously unbelievable off the tee. And then if he was playing even, you could hide a little bit his weakness with his approach play. So all of a sudden him playing with Viktor, you're basically giving Viktor 10 yards longer off the tee. As many fairways as Viktor hits. then you got Viktor hitting a club less into the greens. He's deadly from 160 and then from 150s and worse.
TC: How much did it change up, like versus what you thought it was gonna be on Saturday? How much did you, you know, based on how people played or surprises or anything like that?
Edoardo Molinari: Basically on Friday we had the plan set in stone the weekend of Ireland. So two to two and a half weeks before, we had a couple of options: In case Player A is not playing great, we can swap him and in case Player B is not playing great, we can and still have everyone on the course on Friday which was the biggest concern. And then Saturday, Luke was very keen on making sure that Jon was rested for Sunday singles. At Whistling Straits he played five matches and he said he was very tired on Sunday. So if we had the option to rest someone, Jon was always gonna be the first one of our big players to rest. And that's what happened on Saturday. I mean after Friday started, the morning was always gonna be exactly the same, just we just switched the order a little bit. And then in the afternoon, Jon rested. We had a couple of different pairings that we could kind of switch with each other.
We had to hand in the pairings at 11:00 AM for the afternoon session. We always met at 10:15, 45 minutes before with Luke and the other vice captains in a corner on the golf course. Every time it was like a five-minute discussion and it was pretty easy. And the same thing at night. I think we had an hour from when they finished playing before we could before we had to hand in the pairings for the next morning and it literally took us five minutes on Friday night. The great thing with Luke is that he's - I'm quite similar - he's very well organized. He likes to think about a lot of different options and possibilities well ahead. So even with the players, there was a general feeling that everything was very well managed. He was calm, there was a reason behind everything. And I think as a player it just puts you in a good place.