Ryder Cup rule change may leave McIlroy, Koepka and Hovland in trouble

Team USA captain Zach Johnson confirmed during his pre-tournament press conference that the one-ball rule is not in effect for this year’s Ryder Cup, which creates an entirely different strategy for both sides. Previous Ryder Cup tournaments have had the one-ball rule in effect for the foursomes, which requires each respective pairing to pick one ball to start the round and use it throughout.

It’s caused some issues in the past due to the variety of balls tour pros prefer to play with, particularly on approach shots into the green. Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson infamously clashed at the 2004 Ryder Cup when they had to decide between them which ball to go with for their pairing.

Mickelson had to use Woods’ Nike ball as the latter couldn’t get on with his compatriot’s Callaway ball. The 53-year-old had just two days to familiarise himself with Woods’ ball, which was clearly not enough time as the famous pairing faltered.

That won’t be such an issue this year it seems with each grouping now able to change their ball for each hole if necessary. Johnson confirmed the strategy that both teams will likely take on each hole in regards to picking which ball to use.

He said: “If we are playing together, I’m probably going to tee off with your golf ball more times than not so that we can have more control with your iron play or your wedge play or whatever it may be with your own golf ball. That’s kind of the unwritten rule,” Johnson said. “These guys know what they are doing. I don’t need to coach them on how to go about doing that.”

For the average golfer, using a different ball may not make a noticable difference. But pros are very particular when it comes to which golf ball they use and there’s a big variety being used at this year’s Ryder Cup.

LIV Golfer Brooks Koepka is on his own using the Srixon Z-Star Diamon while Collin Morikawa is also the only one using a TaylorMade TP5. Justin Rose will also be the sole user of the Titleist Pro V1 Left Dot. The most popular ball of choice is the Titleist Pro V1x, which is being used by seven players across both teams.

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Both captains will have likely learned from past mistakes and given their pairings time to get used to a different ball. But getting it wrong can be catastrophic, as proven by both Mickelson and Woods 19 years ago.

Not having the one-ball rule in effect makes it easier for players to correct any issues that crop up on certain holes. However, there will still be an element of uncertainty and unfamiliarity from some players when they look down at a ball they’re not used to playing with.

Which balls each Ryder Cup player is using

Titleist Pro V1x = Aberg, Fitzpatrick, Hatton, Cantlay, Clark, Spieth, Thomas

Titleist Pro V1 = Hovland, Scheffler, Harman, Homa

Callaway Chrome Soft X = Hojgaard, Rahm, Burns, Schauffele

Srixon Z-Star XV = Lowry, Straka

Taylormade TP5x = MacIntyre, McIlroy

TaylorMade TP5x Pix = Fleetwood, Fowler

Titleist Pro V1 Left Dot = Rose

TaylorMade TP5 = Morikawa

Srixon Z-Star Diamond = Koepka

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