Golf-Best-laid Ryder Cup plans do pay off, says Europe's Rose

Golf - The 2023 Ryder Cup - Marco Simone Golf & Country Club, Rome, Italy - October 1, 2023 Team Europe's Justin Rose celebrates with the trophy and teammates during the presentation after winning the Ryder Cup REUTERS/Phil Noble

ROME (Reuters) - When Tommy Fleetwood raised his arms on Marco Simone's 16th green having ensured that Europe would reclaim the Ryder Cup it marked the culmination of a plan hatched two years ago after the worst drubbing in the competition's history.

Europe's 19-9 defeat at Whistling Straits was a hammer blow to the continent's top golfers but days after that debacle thoughts had already turned to Rome.

Over three days on the outskirts of the Italian capital, the plan came to glorious fruition, even if there were a few bumps in the road en route to a 16-1/2 to 11-1/2 win.

Justin Rose, the oldest member of Europe's team and surely a future skipper, said captain Luke Donald's attention to detail had been a key factor in Europe's win.

"You know, nothing was left to chance on that front. Every opportunity that we could have, we took to get forward and get more prepared. I think when you give people clarity, they can kind of sink their teeth into something."

Team bonding weeks and the use of detailed analytics were all part of the preparation to make Europe, in Rose's words, 'almost unbeatable' in the foursomes format.

Europe were 7-1 in those two sessions of alternate shot golf on Friday and Saturday, and it was no accident.

"When things are reactive, it feels like you're kind of hoping for something to change versus when there's a plan, it's just about execution then," Rose said.

"So if you give us a plan, something I'll say to my caddie, if you have good information, there's a good chance we're going to hit a good shot. We got a lot of good information this week ahead of time, so kind of kept us all pretty calm."

The 43-year-old Rose fully justified his pick with 1-1/2 points from his three matches.

He said the team culture in Europe was unique.

"There's a really strong culture on the European Team. A good pairing on the European Team doesn't mean playing with your best mate, it means about representing something bigger than yourself," he said.

Donald paid tribute to his vice-captains and especially the work of Edoardo Molinari who provided an arsenal of data with which Donald could devise his plan.

"I think the game of golf has really become dominated with statistics but, you know, all my vice captains were immense and literally," Donald told reporters.

"But obviously Dodo, I probably spent a little bit more time with him because of the statistics, because of trying to figure out ways to tell all my guys why they were going to win; give them the confidence that when they stepped on that tee on Friday that they expected to win."

Europe's players were exceptional on the first hole, winning it nine times over the three days to the four of the U.S. -- ensuring that momentum was gained from the start.

Asked why, Rose had a simpler explanation.

"The strategy is tee up the driver that's got the biggest head on it. That's the strategy, first tee, Ryder Cup, send it."

(Reporting by Martyn Herman; Editing by Ken Ferris)

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