Donald named as new European Ryder Cup captain

Luke Donald has been formally confirmed as the new European Team Captain for next year’s 44th hosting of the Ryder Cup in Rome.

Donald will now take the place of Sweden’s Henrik Stenson who was unceremoniously stripped of the 2023 European Team captaincy earlier last month after breaking his DP World Tour contract to join the LIV Golf Tour.

Luke Donald Luke Donald

However in a bizarre twist, Stenson no doubt used the sacking to help inspire him to victory in his maiden LIV appearance, winning the LIV tournament at the Trump Bedminster course in New Jersey on Sunday.

The 44-year-old Donald, and a member of four winning European Teams (2004, 2006, 2010 and 2012) has never been on a losing side. He earned 10½ points in his four showings from a possible 15 points for a 70% success rate.

Donald also becomes the first English-born European captain since 2008 when the hapless Nick Faldo steered Europe to defeat, and overall the long-time US based golfer is the 20th Englishman to be asked to lead either a GB&I or European side.

“I am incredibly proud to be named European Ryder Cup Captain for 2023. It is truly one of the greatest honours that can be bestowed upon a golfer, to lead a team of your peers and be an ambassador for an entire continent.”

“I feel extremely privileged to have been given that responsibility and it is a responsibility I do not take lightly.”

“Some of my best experiences in golf have been in the Ryder Cup and I would not swap those for anything. It is an event like no other and I cannot wait to create more special memories in Italy next year.”

“I love everything the Ryder Cup embodies, from the camaraderie and companionship of being part of a team, to the history of the contest, but most of all playing for something bigger than yourself.”

“Rome will be a fantastic host city, and I have always enjoyed spending time there. It is a city rich in history and hopefully we can create some of our own in 14 months’ time.”

As a tour player, Donald’s standout year was 2011 reaching No. 1 in the world in defeating Lee Westwood in a play-off at the BMW PGA Championship. That same season he won the Race to Dubai No.1 award, named European Tour ‘Golfer of the Year’, the European Tour ‘Players’ Player of the Year’, won the Vardon Trophy, the Byron Nelson award, the PGA Tour ‘Player of the Year’ and named also the PGA Tour ‘Player of the Year’ award by his peers.

Donald has had 17 pro career wins with the last being his successful defence of the 2013 Phoenix Open title in Japan.

If there’s any complaint against Donald, and here we are talking about one of the squeakiest-clean guys in golf, it is his absence on the DP World Tour, particularly in the past six years.

He’s played just one event this year and that was the historic joint DP World and PGA Tour Genesis Scottish Open but missed the cut.

Donald played just four ‘regular’ DP World events last year, none in 2020 for obvious reasons, four in 2019, two in 2018, five in 2017 and four in 2016.

Whether that will change in the short 14-months he has to assemble a team in the Italian capital who knows.

What we do know is that who else could have the DP World Tour picked with so many ‘potential’ European Ryder Cup captains now under the LIV Golf banner – Westwood, Sergio Garcia, Ian Poulter, Graeme McDowell and, of course, Stenson.

We’ve also had it again confirmed at today’s announcement the two Rome vice-captains chosen by Stenson, in Edoardo Molinari and Thomas Bjorn, will remain as Rome vice-captains.

Seemingly, Donald’s only rival prior to today’s confirmation would have to be Justin Rose, who turned 42 last Saturday. But Rose has plenty of time on his side before he can start looking to lead Europe in a Ryder Cup while who knows what may transpire in the coming months with LIV Golf soon to announce they will be taking the PGA Tour to court.