Luke Donald may not have been first choice to be Europe’s team captain at the 2023 Ryder Cup, but he has the attributes to vindicate the appointment.
Henrik Stenson’s decision to sign up to LIV Golf in 2022 saw Donald replace the Swede as captain for the battle with the United States at the Marco Simone Golf Club in Rome.
As a former world number one and four-time Ryder Cup player, Donald’s experience and temperament should help Europe enjoy a much closer contest than the record-breaking defeat two years ago.
Fast start not decisive
The United States are 10/11 to retain the Ryder Cup with an outright victory, while Europe is 5/4 to win on home soil for the seventh time in a row. The Ryder Cup odds make it 40/1 that the USA repeat their 19-9 win from Whistling Straits in 2021, but it feels inconceivable that Europe will suffer such a heavy defeat again. The golf betting has Europe as 7/5 shots to win the opening day of the three-day competition, but recent events and Donald’s own experience prove a fast start is not essential.
Roll on September
— Luke Donald (@LukeDonald) May 2, 2023
The Europeans retained the Solheim Cup in September in a tie with the United States, but that came after they had lost the opening session 4-0 and trailed 5-3 at the end of the opening day. Donald was also part of the famous ‘Miracle of Medinah’ European team which trailed 5-3 at the end of the first day in 2012 and, two years earlier, he was part of a side which fell behind before rallying back to edge a close Ryder Cup battle.
Donald’s Ryder Cup career as a player provides him with the experience to handle the situation whether Europe is in front or behind at any stage, even going into the final-day singles matches.
As a captain’s pick in 2004, Donald was part of the European team which posted their record winning margin of 18.5-9.5 over the United States and followed it up two years later with victory by the same scoreline. That year also demonstrated how Donald can learn from experience as he beat Chad Campbell in the singles, two years after he had been beaten heavily by the American.
Unbeaten as a Ryder Cup player
He also posted the first point on the board on the final day in 2012 when he beat Bubba Watson in the singles as Europe came from 10-6 down to secure a historic triumph.
— Ryder Cup Europe (@RyderCupEurope) September 21, 2023
As a former world number one and someone who won all four Ryder Cup appearances as a player, it was inevitable that Donald would eventually become captain, even if it has transpired that this opportunity has come earlier than expected.
However, he has been a vice-captain at the past two renewals and so has seen both sides of the coin after Europe’s win in France in 2018 and their humbling in the United States two years ago.
That combined experience, along with the tireless work Donald has put in talking, meeting and playing alongside the team, means Europe have the ideal captain to regain the Ryder Cup.