Could Stats ‘Genius’ Edoardo Molinari Be Europe’s Secret Ryder Cup Weapon?

Viktor Hovland says Edoardo Molinari will be an "unbelievable asset" to Europe's Ryder Cup team - but could he give Luke Donald's side the edge in Rome?

Edoardo Molinari will be one of Luke Donald's vice-captains at the Ryder Cup
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Ryder Cups can often be decided by the finer details here and there, and in stats guru Edoardo Molinari Europe may just have a secret weapon that could tip the balance in their favour in Rome.

The Italian is one of Luke Donald’s vice-captains for the Ryder Cup and as well as being a home hero Molinari is also an “unbelievable asset” for the team, according to Viktor Hovland.

The Norwegian credits Molinari and his eye for spotting statistical advantages for his own personal form, which has seen him become a consistent challenger in the Majors and a two-time PGA Tour winner this year.

Both Ryder Cup teams will lean heavily on stats in terms of pairing strategy and also in how to play Marco Simone Golf Club – and in Molinari they have a unique asset in a stats maestro who has also played at the top level.

And having that combination of a former Ryder Cup player who is such an expert in the stats department is a huge bonus for Europe, and could just make all the difference.

“Obviously he's the genius when it comes to the stats,” Hovland said of Molinari. “And it's very rare to have a person that has that much expertise and competence.

“He's very intelligent, but at the same time he's played at the highest level himself. He's played a Ryder Cup. He's won big events. So it's just rare to have that combination.

“And on top of it all he's just the best guy there is. He's an unbelievable guy and he's just a lot of fun to be around. So even if he didn't have the stats portion to help us out with, he would still be an unbelievable asset on the team. You just feel good around him.”

Stats guru Edoardo Molinari has been working with Viktor Hovland

Stats guru Edoardo Molinari has been working with Viktor Hovland

(Image credit: Getty Images)

To illustrate his point, Hovland revealed just how far Molinari had dug into his stats bag to pull out a piece of data that helped him to take a step up.

"I think it was right after Augusta," Hovland explained. "I had obviously been working with Edoardo for about a year.... and just from watching me play the first kind of three, four, five months of the season, he was like, Look, man, things are looking really good, but I would have a double bogey here or a double bogey there and it would just kind of mess up the whole tournament for me or it would get me out of contention. 

"He even said this while we were playing the Masters, while I’m in contention. It’s like, there’s something that’s missing. There’s something that’s not right. 

"And basically there’s a certain percentage you’re supposed to short side yourself. But basically I was doing that way more than the average player. And that’s when Joe (Mayo, Hovland's coach) asked Edoardo to see if the stats backed that up. 

"And, yeah, we got a pretty good idea of just that’s basically what the stats showed. I was short siding myself way more than the average Tour player does. So that was very revealing."

That nugget of information helped Hovland switch mindset and led to him winning the Memorial in June and the BMW Championship in the FedEx Cup Playoffs while looking well at ease with his game.

Molinari helped in Fitzpatrick's US Open win

Hovland is not the only player Molinari has helped out though, with Matt Fitzpatrick using the Italian's StatisticGolf platform to help him win the 2022 US Open.

Molinari and Fitzpatrick were in touch throughout the tournament, with the Italian planning a strategy for how the Englishman should attack Brookline - and it led to the Yorkshireman lifting the trophy.

“He is a genius,” Fitzpatrick says of Molinari. “It’s been awesome to find a guy who nerds out as much on numbers as I do. Probably more, to be honest.

"I'm always interested in numbers, whether it's mine or whether it's other people's. I kind of like to know what's going on and what's good, and why someone is playing well and why they are not playing well. 

"I just find that interesting and I know Edoardo is the same. He's someone that I can trust and get on well with and there isn't any better in my opinion."

Molinari to help form plan of attack in Rome

Molinari, who has also helped Thomas Pieters and Adri Arnaus secure tournament victories, has detailed how he will help Donald in the build-up to the Ryder Cup.

As far as backroom staff go, Molinari has the lot as he brings to the table experience of playing the 2010 Ryder Cup at Celtic Manor along with his engineering degree from Turin University.

After keeping studious notes on his performances for two decades, Molinari says he developed his analytics platform “sitting on the sofa during lockdown” and is using the 'moneyball' formula to help golfers find marginal gains to improve.

Edoardo (l) and Francesco (r) Molinari at the 2010 Ryder Cup at Celtic Manor

(Image credit: Getty Images)

It comes in the form of not where to improve your game, but also where gains can be made in terms of course management - and both of those attributes could be huge factors in Rome

As part of his vice-captain role, he'll help come up with pairings suggestions, but also in course set-up, crucially identifying areas where Europe can gain any little advantages on the Americans.

“First of all we will help with wildcards and pairings,” said the Italian.

“The other big thing is course set-up. You have to look at both teams. We will try to set it up to favour European players who you know are going to be in the team. And then you try to exploit the weaknesses of the Americans."

If Molinari has any more golden piece of stats-based advice for Donald's Ryder Cup team, it may just provide them with the edge to see-off Team USA in Rome.

Paul Higham

Paul Higham is a sports journalist with over 20 years of experience in covering most major sporting events for both Sky Sports and BBC Sport. He is currently freelance and covers the golf majors on the BBC Sport website.  Highlights over the years include covering that epic Monday finish in the Ryder Cup at Celtic Manor and watching Rory McIlroy produce one of the most dominant Major wins at the 2011 US Open at Congressional. He also writes betting previews and still feels strangely proud of backing Danny Willett when he won the Masters in 2016 - Willett also praised his putting stroke during a media event before the Open at Hoylake. Favourite interviews he's conducted have been with McIlroy, Paul McGinley, Thomas Bjorn, Rickie Fowler and the enigma that is Victor Dubuisson. A big fan of watching any golf from any tour, sadly he spends more time writing about golf than playing these days with two young children, and as a big fair weather golfer claims playing in shorts is worth at least five shots. Being from Liverpool he loves the likes of Hoylake, Birkdale and the stretch of tracks along England's Golf Coast, but would say his favourite courses played are Kingsbarns and Portrush.