Luke Donald humbled by players’ support for his return as Ryder Cup captain

By Sports Desk November 29, 2023

Luke Donald admits it was “humbling and gratifying” to have the support of Europe’s players after being named captain for the 2025 Ryder Cup.

Donald has been reappointed after masterminding a commanding victory in Rome earlier this year, after which the winning team immediately urged him to break with recent tradition and remain in charge.

Support for the 45-year-old was such that it was inevitable that he would become Europe’s first repeat captain since Bernard Gallacher performed the role in 1991, 1993 and 1995.

The former world number one will also bid to become only the second captain after Tony Jacklin in 1985 and 1987 to win home and away.

While Jacklin and Gallacher led the side on multiple occasions, it had been common practice since 1997 for the captain to only get one bite of the cherry, even if – like Bernhard Langer and Ian Woosnam – they spearheaded record victories.

However, Europe’s players made it clear they wanted that to change as they chanted “two more years” while Donald gave a television interview following the five-point victory in Rome.

“I think everyone sitting here would be very happy to have him again,” Rory McIlroy said in the winning team’s press conference, while Tommy Fleetwood hailed Donald as “phenomenal”.

Speaking after being reappointed, Donald said: “It was so humbling, so gratifying to hear that they wanted me to carry on and certainly that was a big part of my decision to do that.

“We created some special moments, some special memories that week and to have their backing meant the world to me.

“When I was lifting that trophy and hearing the support the guys had for me, even back then I thought I can’t let the lads down and maybe I have to do this again.

“Not often in life are you given great opportunities and I really feel like this is an amazing opportunity.

“I was given a great opportunity to do Rome [after Henrik Stenson was sacked for joining LIV] and I certainly took it with both hands and to obviously be given the opportunity to go back-to-back is something that I love.

“As Rory said, it’s the ultimate to try to win away from home. I’ve done it twice as a player but it’s not easy. We have to go back to 2012 for (a win) in the US.

“We know that in any sport when you have the crowd behind you it’s a big advantage and certainly I’ll have to figure out ways to kind of counter that.”

Donald could also have to face up to Tiger Woods being his opposite number at Bethpage Black, although the 15-time major winner said on Tuesday that he has become so involved in his new player-director role on the PGA Tour that any conversations about the captaincy would have to take a back seat.

Donald is relaxed about the prospect regardless, preferring to focus instead on whether to retain his five vice-captains and assessing if having six qualifiers and six wild cards is the best system for selecting a team.

“I’m sure someone like Francesco (Molinari) would love to play in New York as I’m sure he feels like he still has an opportunity to do it,” Donald said.

“You saw Justin Rose at age 43 have a great Ryder Cup himself. That’s inspiring, I’m sure, to someone like that.

“I’ll certainly look at all the candidates and all the vice-captains that were under me and have conversations with them and see where their mind is as well. That process starts right now.

“[The qualifying] worked well this time around. We had six picks and those picks performed well. I think we were able to pick some experienced players, some rookies, it was a nice freedom to have as captain.

“Again, those decisions have yet to be decided and that’s probably the number one priority for me to try and figure out, is this the best way going forward?”

Whether future captains also get to lead the team home and away also remains to be seen.

“Right now what we’ve done is made the decision which is based on the goal of retaining the trophy in 2025,” Ryder Cup Europe executive director Guy Kinnings said.

“So I don’t think that it should be read anything more than that. What we’ve done is taken the circumstances we have in front of us and made what I hope, which I know is the right decision, and got the right man at the helm.”

Related items

  • Tiger Woods’ son Charlie aiming to qualify for PGA Tour’s Cognizant Classic Tiger Woods’ son Charlie aiming to qualify for PGA Tour’s Cognizant Classic

    Tiger Woods’ son Charlie will attempt to qualifying for next week’s Cognizant Classic, PGA Tour officials have revealed.

    The 15-year-old will compete in Thursday’s pre-qualifier at Lost Lake Golf Club in Hobe Sound, Florida, which is one of four pre-qualifying sites.

    Approximately 25 players and ties will advance to the full qualifier on Monday, February 26, from which four players will earn places in the Cognizant Classic from February 29 – March 3 at PGA National in Palm Beach Gardens.

    The tournament has a prize fund of £7.1million and boasts a field which includes the likes of Rory McIlroy and Ryder Cup team-mates Shane Lowry, Justin Rose and Matt Fitzpatrick.

    Charlie Woods has competed in the last four editions of the PNC Championship alongside his father, who was forced to withdraw from the Genesis Invitational last week due to illness.

    Charlie also competed in last year’s Notah Begay III Junior Golf National Championship, with his father acting as his caddie, and finished tied for 17th in the boys 14-15 division.

  • Hideki Matsuyama wins Genesis Invitational title after stunning final round Hideki Matsuyama wins Genesis Invitational title after stunning final round

    Japan’s Hideki Matsuyama fired a stunning final round of 62 to win the Genesis Invitational and secure his ninth PGA Tour title.

    Matsuyama carded nine birdies at Riviera Country Club to finish 17 under par, overturning a six-shot deficit to overnight leader Patrick Cantlay to claim his first win in two years.

    The former Masters champion birdied his first three holes in a front nine of 32 and started the back nine with another hat-trick of gains to move into a five-way tie for the lead.

    But the best was yet to come as the former world number two – who had slipped to 55th in the rankings – hit his approach to the 15th to eight inches, his tee shot on the next even closer and also birdied the 17th to effectively seal victory with several groups still out on the course.

    “I wasn’t striking the ball really well but my chipping and putting was working a lot this week, especially the second shot on 15 was one of the best I had. That really helped,” Matsuyama said through an interpreter.

    “I think it’s really important for me to keep this momentum, especially going to Augusta, so hopefully I can keep that.”

    Will Zalatoris and Luke List shared second place on 14 under par, List having held a two-shot lead on 16 under after racing to the turn in 30, only to struggle home in 38.

    Zalatoris carded four birdies and two bogeys in his closing 69, while 54-hole leader Cantlay could only manage a final round of 72, which included a birdie from 50 feet on the 18th.

    England’s Tommy Fleetwood finished in a tie for 10th after a closing 67, with Rory McIlroy joint 24th following a final round of 70.

    “I think that I’m close. I’m not quite where I want to be,” McIlroy told CBS.

    “It’s one of these courses where you know that precision is so important and putting your ball in the right areas and if you’re just slightly off your weaknesses sort of get magnified this week.”

  • Tiger Woods ‘much better’ after withdrawing from Genesis with flu-like symptoms Tiger Woods ‘much better’ after withdrawing from Genesis with flu-like symptoms

    Tiger Woods is said to be feeling “much, much better” after the 48-year-old was forced to withdraw from the Genesis Invitational in California due to suffering flu-like symptoms.

    The 15-time major champion, tournament host this week, returned to the PGA Tour on Thursday, finishing his opening round at the Riviera Country Club on one-over par.

    But the American could not back that up a day later as he withdrew after six holes due to illness.

    Rob McNamara, executive vice president of TGR Ventures, told PGATour.com Woods had started feeling flu-like symptoms on Thursday night.

    “He had a little bit of a fever and was better during the warm-up, but then when he got out there and was walking and playing, he started feeling dizzy,” McNamara said.

    “Ultimately the doctors are saying he’s got some – potentially some type of flu and that he was dehydrated. He’s been treated with an IV bag and he’s doing much, much better and he’ll be released on his own here soon.”

    Woods is still adapting to ankle fusion surgery, having undergone treatment in April last year after withdrawing from the Masters during the third round and he did not compete again until the Hero World Challenge in December.

    He had suffered from a back spasm towards the end of his first round, shanking his second shot on the 18th from the fairway over into the trees on the right, eventually sinking a two-putt bogey to make a five.

    Woods started in fine form on Friday, producing a birdie on the first, but back-to-back bogeys arrived from the fourth and he called it a day after a third par on the sixth left him one over for his round.

    He was driven back to the locker room by a rules official.

    Following Friday’s play, it was also announced that Jordan Spieth was disqualified for signing for an incorrect scorecard.

    In a statement on X, the PGA Tour said: “Jordan Spieth has been disqualified from The Genesis Invitational for signing for an incorrect scorecard.

    “Spieth signed for a 3 and made a 4 on No. 4.”

    American Patrick Cantlay takes a five-shot lead into the weekend at 13 under, while Rory McIlroy fights to beat the cut after following up Thursday’s 74 with a flawless 66.

© 2023 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.