Team Europe look to regain trophy after record-breaking defeat to Team USA in 2021; Luke Donald named Ludvig Aberg among his six captain’s picks despite him only being a professional since June; Watch live from September 29-October 1 on Sky Sports Golf
Last Updated: 05/09/23 9:06am
Former Ryder Cup-winning captain Paul McGinley takes a closer look at Luke Donald’s six picks and examines how Team Europe is shaping up ahead of this year’s contest in Rome.
I think Luke Donald was in a situation at the end of the day where he couldn’t have made a wrong decision with who he named as his captain’s picks.
If he had picked Adrian Meronk then there wouldn’t be much criticism over that, as you could easily say he deserved a place. I feel sorry for him in many respects as this guy would have made the last two or three teams based on form, so is incredibly unlucky.
Victor Perez is someone who easily would be in the race to be in, while Yannik Paul from Germany just missed out on the qualifiers but has had a strong year. We have a lot of young talent coming through on the DP World Tour and it’s a good job, with the changing of the guard going on.
We have four rookies on the team, which is quite a lot. How they’re blended into the team with the experienced players is going to be important. There’s a big job at hand but we’re much better equipped now than we would have been this time last year.
Aberg came through so fast and so quickly that he almost forced Donald’s hand where he had to pick him. As Luke himself has said, a lot of the guys are in form. It’s a strong European team, but remember we’re coming off a record loss two years ago so it’s a steep hill we’re climbing.
I think it’s too early to put too much pressure on Aberg, as it’s one thing being able to hit a golf ball and another thing being able to play under pressure. He proved that over the weekend and a lot of credit must go to him for that.
We’re still learning from him and remember he’s probably the 12th man in the team here, so don’t expect him to play five matches. He’ll probably play two or even three matches. He’ll be an important cog in the wheel, but he won’t be the most important cog for Donald.
We had Thomas Pieters a few years ago going off to play in America as a rookie and play as well as he did, so you never know how he is going to ignite. That’s all to be seen and revealed so far.
New era for European golf?
It has been recognised for a few years now that there would be a changing of the guard, as a strong era of players who have stood for Europe slowly move into their forties and slowly depart the scene.
We realise that after the record defeat two years ago there would be a changing of the guard and it’s so great to see so many of the guys stepping up. So many of these players didn’t just fall over the line, they played great to get themselves in a position to qualify.
It’s a team of 12 players and we’re giving ourselves a good chance but let’s not overestimate as they’re up against a strong American team. We’re coming off a record loss and we’re putting the pieces back together again, albeit with new names.
Edoardo Molinari is one of the vice-captains, is very strong with his stats and has done an incredible job behind the scenes in statistics. Statistics and analytics will drive a lot of pairings but it’s important that Luke gets that balance between using that with his own instincts.
I helped them out at the Hero Cup back in January and was hugely impressed with what he is doing and how they are following players. They are following trends and what he is trying to do is like putting a jigsaw together.
They’re picking players that are suited to this particular ‘exam’ that we’re going to face in Italy in a month’s time. Sometimes you lose the heart and soul of the captain because you use the data too much, so it’s important to get that blend right.
We’re against it, the bookies aren’t making us favourites. We’re coming off a huge loss, the biggest loss any team has encountered. So should we get within one or two points of the American team at the end of the day and just happen to fall below the line, that is to a large extent success.
I am not going to dismiss the quality of this team by any means. We’re up against it, there’s no doubt, but I am not going to discount that we could come up the rails because we have done that many, many times before. It’s in our DNA.
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