Is it ever not Ryder Cup season?
We ask the question here in late May, 2022, about 14 months before the next Ryder Cup. We ask it because Ryder Cup decisions are made year-round, essentially. Where the event will be hosted, which course will play host, who will provide the local influence, and of course who will be on each team. Even during a Presidents Cup year, the outlook for some has already shifted to next fall’s battle in Rome, Italy, where Zach Johnson will captain the Americans against Henrik Stenson and the Europeans.
We are many months away from those teams being finalized, but it’s possible that players who compete in the upcoming LIV Golf Invitationals might impact their future Ryder Cup availability. In the meantime, we have a few less earth-shattering decisions for captains to make. Example A: choosing vice captains.
Already involved on the American side will be Steve Stricker, the victorious captain in 2021, and for the Europeans Thomas Bjorn, who captained a winning team in Paris in 2018. Next up for Henrik Stenson is a more surprising pick: Edoardo Molinari.
Molinari, the 41-year-old brother of Open Champion Francesco Molinari, is the 262nd-ranked player in the world, but boasts some solid Ryder Cup experience having played for the Europeans in 2010 during their victory at Celtic Manor in Wales. Edoardo teamed up with Francesco that week, going 0-1-1 in team matches before tying Rickie Fowler in a crucial singles match down the stretch on Sunday.
Though Molinari’s best playing days seem to be behind him, he continues to have an outsized effect on the game. He has earned attention lately as one of the game’s preeminent analytics junkies. As he wrote back in 2018 (during the height of his brother’s dominance), he developed his own custom software to measure his statistics. With all the information he could muster logged each and every week, Molinari was a better, smarter golfer as a result. In particular, it helped him strategize and practice where perceivable flaws existed in his game.
Now, he’s hoping to bring that to the European Ryder Cup team.
“It is fantastic.” Molinari said in a press release. “I played the Ryder Cup in 2010 and to be able to be a Vice Captain in this one is a dream come true. It was a very unexpected call from Henrik. We had chatted a few times about stats and what I could do to help the team, but I never expected this.
“Knowing Henrik, he will leave no stone unturned. He will do everything he can to win the Ryder Cup back. It will be a lot of fun for all the guys playing for him too. He has always been a very friendly guy, and is always smiling, so I think it will be a fantastic atmosphere in the team room.”
Part of the draw for having Molinari is that he is Italian, and Italy is hosting the Ryder Cup for the first time. It doesn’t hurt to give the local fans someone extra to root for! Even though Francesco dominated the last Cup in Europe, he has fallen down the world ranking to No. 190, and is far from a lock to be involved next year. The other draw, Stenson said, is that Edoardo works on statistics with a handful of players who might be selected for the European roster. Suddenly, it all starts to make sense.