Europe’s Secret Weapon at the Ryder Cup Is a Data Geek Called Dodo

Europe’s Secret Weapon at the Ryder Cup Is a Data Geek Called Dodo
Europe’s Secret Weapon at the Ryder Cup Is a Data Geek Called Dodo


Italian golfer Edoardo Molinari is one of Europe’s vice-captains and an analytics consultant to some of golf’s biggest stars.

Edoardo Molinari always felt like he had an advantage as a professional golfer, and it wasn’t because of his putting or accuracy off the tee.

It was because he’s a math geek.

“I was always doing my own stats for my own game, for my own benefit, for many, many years," Molinari says.

These days, he’s doing stats for the benefit of golf stars like Viktor Hovland and Matthew Fitzpatrick, who rely on the guy they call Dodo to be their data whiz. But his skills have never been in greater demand than right now: it’s up to him to give Team Europe an analytical edge at this year’s Ryder Cup.

Molinari is one of the vice-captains for the Europeans in their battle against the United States, and there won’t be anyone at Marco Simone Golf & Country Club near Rome better suited to give their side a quantitative boost.

He studied engineering in college. He’s an accomplished golfer. And he’s Italian.

“We have some inside information for sure," Molinari says.

Being a vice-captain in the Ryder Cup is a bit like being a bench coach for a baseball team. Everyone who follows the game knows that the job exists, but it’s not exactly clear what the gig entails. The role nominally involves advising the captain on player selection and offering suggestions on the optimal pairings for team events. But for Molinari, in his role alongside Europe captain Luke Donald, the mandate is clear. It’s up to him to weaponize all the data in his arsenal to help the Europeans reclaim the Ryder Cup trophy.

Molinari, 42 years old, peaked at No. 14 in the world rankings during his own playing career. His younger brother Francesco, also a vice captain, won the British Open in 2018. And both Molinaris were on the European Ryder Cup team that eked out a victory in 2010. Edoardo still competes, but he has also learned that the most value he can provide these days might just be coaching some of the best golfers on the planet.

His first client was the sport’s biggest wonk. Fitzpatrick is an Englishman who has filled notebooks with details about every single shot that he’s hit since he was 14 years old: what club he hit, how the wind was blowing, where the ball landed and where he was aiming. Fitzpatrick’s methods, which included plugging all of those notes into his own database, were already intense when he began working with Molinari a few years ago. Then he transferred that voluminous data to Molinari’s systems and found himself in a whole new world of insights.

“Since I did that," Fitzpatrick says, “I’ve learned so much more about my own game."

Business started booming when the golfers working with Molinari began lifting trophies. Fitzpatrick won the U.S. Open in 2022 and is one of the linchpins for Europe in this Ryder Cup. Another one of Europe’s top golfers is Hovland, a Norwegian ranked No. 4 in the world after winning the Tour Championship. It turns out he’s another Dodo guy.

For golfers like Fitzgerald and Hovland, Molinari is a bridge between the game and the numbers. As analytics have become increasingly pervasive across the sports world, there has also been an underlying tension among athletes, and even some decision makers, who insist that games aren’t decided on spreadsheets. But that stereotype of the sports quant is what makes Molinari so useful. He’s presenting the information as both a data guy and someone who still plays golf professionally.

“When I speak with the players, sometimes they even make a comment saying, ‘Discussing these things with you is different than if I discuss them with a guy sitting behind a computer,’" Molinari says. “I could be saying the same things, but because they come from a professional golfer, they just resonate differently with the players."

Golf isn’t any different than baseball, basketball or football in the way that gushers of data have flooded the sport over the past decade. These days, golfers can track everything from the speed of their drives on the range to the loft of their wedges. Then it becomes the job of someone like Molinari to analyze that data and distill it for the players who seek his counsel. He doesn’t bog them down in 40-page reports. He breaks down the numbers into a lesson that he can impart over a phone call or in a single text message.

Molinari’s advice tends to follow two different tracks. He uses the numbers to tell the players what parts of their game to work on. He also tackles each course for them: the right club to hit off the tee, how they should approach specific greens, whether it’s statistically insane to go for the green of a par-5 in two shots.

Every golf shot boils down to these types of decisions, but the stakes are heightened at the Ryder Cup—and not just because trans-Atlantic bragging rights for the next two years are on the line. It’s also because there are simply more calculations.

First, there’s the selection of the team, a fraught process that almost inevitably results in some of the best golfers in the U.S. and Europe being left off their squads. Then come the difficult choices in the event itself. During the first two days, two players from each side are paired for the team competition, and not everyone gets to play in every round.

There are also two sessions of 18 holes on Friday and Saturday with differing formats, which means the captain and the vice-captains need to decide who to play, who to bench and who they need to grind through 36 holes. They even have to quantify the unquantifiable and calculate which players have good chemistry and games that complement each other’s.

Molinari also happens to be more useful to Europe this year than he would have been when the Ryder Cup was last played in the U.S. in 2021. Since the home team gets the advantage of tinkering with the course in a way that favors its own players, Europe could rely on Molinari to pore over the data and dictate everything from the speed of the greens to the length of the rough.

“You try to hide your weaknesses and try to take advantage of the Americans’ weaknesses," Molinari says.

Molinari wasn’t keen to tip his hand about how Team Europe will attempt to tilt the scales in its favor. But he admits that he’s been spending even more time than usual on his laptop to help his side do just that.

“I’d say I’ve been, obviously, very, very busy," Molinari says.

Write to Andrew Beaton at

Europe’s Secret Weapon at the Ryder Cup Is a Data Geek Called Dodo
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Europe’s Secret Weapon at the Ryder Cup Is a Data Geek Called Dodo
Europe’s Secret Weapon at the Ryder Cup Is a Data Geek Called Dodo
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Europe’s Secret Weapon at the Ryder Cup Is a Data Geek Called Dodo
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