In this week’s Player Blog presented by Enterprise Rent-A-Car, Edoardo Molinari discusses an exciting start to the Ryder Cup qualification process, playing on home soil this week in a strong field, why his brother Francesco has a renewed focus, the strength of golf in Italy and the satisfaction of seeing players enjoy success after using his data platform StatisticGolf.
It is great that the Ryder Cup qualification has started. The BMW PGA Championship proved an exciting way to kick off the campaign and it was great to see Shane, Rory and Jon battling it out to win the title. It was quite a long process to put everything in place but an important one and along with Luke and Thomas we are happy with the criteria we have set. There are a lot of young and talented players on the rise, and I am sure that over the next 12 months we are going to see some new faces that emerge. I am excited to see them do their best to make the team next September in Rome.
Something that I as a Vice Captain, along with Thomas, have been doing is to try and play alongside Ryder Cup hopefuls in recent months at tournaments prior to the process beginning. Alongside Luke, will continue to do that over the closing months of the season and into the next year. It’s an ideal to way to get to know the players better personally and see their games up close. A key part of the role of a Vice Captain is to ensure that they as players, especially those who we might not know as well, feel comfortable so that we can forge relationships.
We will have a great team in Rome at Marco Simone Golf & Country Club next year. There will undoubtedly be a few fresh faces, but the backbone of the team will name itself. It will be a very hungry team and I have no doubt that Team Europe will be very tough for the United States to beat as we look to regain the trophy.
I am enjoying combining my responsibilities as a Vice Captain and maintaining my focus on my individual game.
Looking back to the 2010 Ryder Cup at Celtic Manor, I found it difficult to soak up everything around the event. As a player, coming into the team as a Captain’s Pick, my entire attention was on the matches and the week went by quickly. I think this time as a Vice Captain I will be more relaxed because I don’t have to perform under pressure every day. A lot of our hard work will have been done prior to the first matches starting on the Friday. After that we will make a few decisions, but we largely leave the players to go out there and do their best. I hope that next year, especially with it being on home soil, it will be easier to enjoy the overall experience. I am very much looking forward to it.
Marco Simone is a great course, and I am excited to see the fans that will come to witness the first ever Ryder Cup in Italy.
This week’s Italian Open has the best field in my memory. There is great excitement in my home country around Rory’s participation in the event for the first time, which brings increased media coverage. With Viktor, Matt and Tyrrell also playing, the interest is elevated. I expect an exciting week, with big crowds set to attend. It will be fascinating to see how the tournament develops.
I bring great memories from last year to my national open. I made a hole-in-one during the first round last year – doing it in front of home fans made it all the more special. It proved to be one of my best performances that season as I finished tied fifth. It’s a course that I enjoy playing and I am confident that I will produce another good performance.
I have been playing very consistently again this season, in a similar vein to how I was doing last year. I was really struggling last year on the greens. This year I have been doing slightly better, especially during the middle part of the season when I had top tens in Spain, Belgium and Germany. With every week I am starting to get greater confidence on the greens.
The main goal between now and the end of the season will be to make it to the DP World Tour Championship in Dubai. I have not played in that tournament since 2014 so that would be a great way to close out the season. I am 71st in the DP World Tour Rankings so need a couple more good results to climb into the Top 50. Tee to green I can still compete at a very high level. If I can keep on top of my putting, then I can be dangerous and from there it is a case of seeing what can happen.
Francesco has not had a great couple of years, but he is very motivated to make the 2023 Ryder Cup team. I am pretty sure he will be firmly in contention if he can build some consistency in his game. I noticed a difference in him ahead of last week’s BMW PGA Championship and I am sure that is because the start of the qualification process provides a renewed focus. I was pleased for him that he played well and finished in the top ten.
Italian golf is in a strong place. We have several players on Tour and then there are a lot of younger players coming through the ranks. I am sure the record-breaking performance by Francesco at Le Golf National will have acted as a source of inspiration to them. Italy has also just won its first World Amateur Team Championship which is a huge achievement for the game of golf in our country. It has been a steady progress and I hope as interest continues to build towards next year in Rome more stories of Italian golfers will surface.
There are certainly more juniors playing golf in Italy and the staging of the Ryder Cup in our country will certainly have played its part and I hope we can continue this path. Media interest in golf has certainly grown in recent years. But in Italy so much focus is on football, and it will always be very hard to compete with that. Away from football there is certainly space for other sports to have a spotlight shone on them and golf is among them.
Since I launched StatisticGolf – an analytics platform – several players have begun to embrace statistics. It is getting more and more popular with the professionals. When they see someone winning, they ask what has helped them and they kindly mention my name! At the start of the season, there were several players who I have worked with that won titles. Players and caddies talk, and word of mouth has helped me to work with other players. It means that I am doing something nice and helpful. Initially it was quite difficult to explain to the players the data behind the decision making. But the moment they start to see the results they quickly listen to what you have to say.
Matt Fitzpatrick’s win at the U.S. Open this year was a fantastic story. Personally, it is very satisfying to see players I know well fulfil their ambitions after asking for my help in using data to improve their game. Fitzy was one of the first players to come to me and has long taken a keen interest in the analytical side of the sport. Just to be able to discuss with him his game and his preparation to events is rewarding even though it may only play a small part in their performance on the day. At this level of the game with so many players performing at a high level, the small margins can make all the difference to someone finishing first or second.
Picking the brains of a player like Fitzy opens new ideas to me. Any time I receive a text from Fitzy I know straight away it is likely to be something interesting. I always feel like he is well ahead of everyone else on Tour in terms of trying to do everything he possibly can to better his game. It has largely been focused on course management and he is excited about what he is getting out of the insights and how it is continually improving his game.