“We feel like as a team, statistically, we are stronger in foursomes within our team than we would be in four-balls. Why not get off to a fast start? That’s it.”
That is the fairly simple reasoning behind Luke Donald deciding that foursomes will be played before four-balls in a Ryder Cup for the first time in Europe since 1993.
That is a date that hangs over this Ryder Cup for the U.S. Team as it was 30 years ago that they last won on European soil, a run of dominance they are eager to end this week.
And if they are to do that, they will have to improve on a foursomes record that has seen them not only surrender points but momentum and initiative since that win at The Belfry.
Despite losing the Ryder Cup 30 years ago in England, the Europeans came out on top in the foursomes, something they have achieved in all but five Ryder Cups since.
While the overall record in foursomes since Continental Europe joined the Ryder Cup in 1979 is just 77-73 to Europe, Europe leads 62½-49½ since 1993.
“I think of myself as a really good match play player,” said U.S. Open champion Wyndham Clark as he faced the press at Marco Simone Golf & Country Club this week. “I had a lot of success in college in match play.
“But as far as getting comfortable with alternate shot, it is tough. The rhythm of it is so tough because you might not hit a putt over five feet for seven holes and the next thing you know you have a 30-footer and you’re like, I don’t know the speed of the greens. Little things like that that makes it difficult.
“None of us really have that much experience. If you really think about it, sure, guys play in Ryder Cups, but that’s the only time they play, and then they play it two years later.”
Familarity with the format is often attributed to European success, with foursomes common across the junior and amateur game across Europe, where it is not so much in the United States.
But in recent years , U.S performances have improved, although it has often been a case of feast or famine.
In 2014 at Gleneagles, America won both fourballs sessions by a point and lost the singles 6½-5½ but were beaten 7-1 in foursomes – “In the infamous words of our President: we got shellacked this afternoon,” said Captain Tom Watson on Saturday in Scotland.
A tone-setting 4-0 victory in the foursomes in the opening session in 2016 helped the United States regain the cup for the first time in eight years but in 2018 it was Europe winning a session 4-0 on Friday afternoon that changed the course of that contest.
I think that’s a huge factor, of being able to go out there with your partner and just understanding what makes you feel comfortable
— Collin Morikawa
“I feel like I’ve played better and enjoyed alternate shot more just because I feel like it demands a little bit more out of you,” said Rickie Fowler, a veteran of 2014, 2016 and 2018.
“A little bit more pressure. It kind of brings out the better in me on that versus best ball sometimes. It’s definitely nice to have a partner that can bail you out. But it can be a little more relaxing, too, at times.”
The foursomes pendulum swung back towards the U.S. 6-2 in 2021 as part of a 19-9 victory which seemed to see an enhanced unity in the ranks.
Another theory behind Europe’s recent foursomes success is the perception that they operate better as a team than their U.S counterparts, a narrative that a new generation of American stars is looking to change.
“I think that’s a huge factor, of being able to go out there with your partner and just understanding what makes you feel comfortable,” said Collin Morikawa, who won both his foursomes matches and a four-ball match alongside Dustin Johnson in 2021.
“You can feel comfortable on the setting, but you can have someone that’s there and you just trust them.
“I think in a foursomes partner it’s just always being in the hole. Even if you’re out of the hole, hit it in the fairway, give yourself a putt for par, just always giving yourself a chance.
“Because foursomes, you just never want to give holes away, and that’s how a lot of matches are won in foursomes.”
The U.S. Team have not won the foursomes on European soil since 2002 and the foursomes have not been won by a visiting team at a Ryder Cup since 2004.
To upset Luke Donald’s plan, this U.S. Team will have to change all that.
Source : Rydercup