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Luke Donald named 2023 European Ryder Cup Captain6 min read


Posted on: 2nd Aug 2022

Englishman selected to lead Europe at Marco Simone Golf and Country Club in Italy.

He has played on four winning Ryder Cups and was Vice Captain in the last two contests.

The 44 year old is a former World Number One.

Luke Donald has been named as the European Captain for the 2023 Ryder Cup at Marco Simone Golf and Country Club in Rome, Italy from September 25 – October 1, 2023.

Donald represented Europe in the Ryder Cup four times as a player, being part of a winning team on all four occasions, including in 2012 when he led Team Europe out in the Singles, securing the first blue point on the board in the ‘Miracle at Medinah’.

He also has served as a Vice Captain in the last two editions of the biennial contest, under Thomas Bjørn in 2018 and Pádraig Harrington last year.

The 44 year old Englishman’s impressive individual playing career includes holding the position of Number One on the Official World Golf Rankings for a total of 56 weeks, and in 2011 he became the first player in history to top the money lists on the European Tour (now the DP World Tour) and the PGA TOUR in the same year.

Donald said: “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.”

Guy Kinnings, the European Ryder Cup Director, said: “Luke is a former World Number One who possesses a superb Ryder Cup record, so he undoubtedly has the credentials required to be a successful European Captain.

“He is hugely respected by the players and by the wider support team at Ryder Cup Europe who have already done an immense amount of work behind the scenes to give him a strong platform for the remaining 14 months before the match gets underway.

“We have continued the tradition of moving forward with players in the role of Captain who have excelled in the Ryder Cup arena; and in terms of Luke, we are combining that experience with strong leadership and a meticulous approach. On behalf of everyone at Ryder Cup Europe, we look forward to fully supporting him in the quest to reclaim the Ryder Cup next year.”

Donald has wasted little time in ensuring continuity in the key backroom area of Team Europe, confirming that both existing Vice Captains – Thomas Bjørn and Edoardo Molinari – will continue in their respective positions.

“In my opinion, it was essential that Thomas and Edoardo remained part of the team. They were the first two calls I made once I got the nod to be Captain and I’m delighted that they are fully on-board.

“Nobody needs any explanation of how important Thomas is to the Ryder Cup – one glance at the history books will show you that. He has lived and breathed European golf for the past 30 years and having his know-how behind me, not least as a winning Captain, will be vital.

“Furthermore, Edoardo has blazed an impressive trail for himself in the world of stats and his knowledge in this area with the players who will be on the team, in addition to extra-special Italian element he will bring to the entire occasion, is an extra bonus for Team Europe.”

Donald boasts a formidable playing record in the Ryder Cup, contributing 10½ points from his 15 matches.

He made his debut as part of Bernhard Langer’s record-breaking team at Oakland Hills Country Club in 2004, halving his opening match with Paul McGinley against Chris Riley and Stewart Cink, before teaming up with Sergio Garcia in the foursomes to defeat Cink and Kenny Perry 2&1 on the Friday, followed by a 1 up Foursomes victory with Garcia against Jim Furyk and Fred Funk on the Saturday.

Donald claimed a maximum three points from his three matches at The K Club, in Ireland, in 2006 under the captaincy of Ian Woosnam as Europe retained the Ryder Cup with a second consecutive 18½-9½ victory. He once again teamed up with Garcia in the Foursomes, defeating Tiger Woods and Furyk 2 up on the Friday, then Phil Mickelson and David Toms 2&1 on the Saturday, before exacting revenge on Chad Campbell for his loss in the Singles two years earlier with a 2&1 victory.

His next appearance came at The Celtic Manor Resort in 2010 when he contributed a further three points from his four matches, partnering Ian Poulter to defeat Bubba Watson and Jeff Overton 2&1 in Foursomes, before teaming up with Lee Westwood to beat Steve Stricker and Woods 6&5 in the same format. Donald then defeated Furyk on the final hole of their Singles match as Europe claimed a memorable 14½-13½ win in Wales.

Donald was also an integral part of another dramatic European victory two years later in Illinois, the State where he studied at Northwestern University. Partnering Garcia in the Saturday afternoon Fourballs against Woods and Stricker, his stunning tee shot inside Woods’ on the elevated par three 17th hole was a pivotal moment in the Miracle at Medinah, as the pair went on to win their match on the final hole, shortly before Ian Poulter and Rory McIlroy reduced the deficit to four points with their victory against Zach Johnson and Jason Dufner.

Captain José María Olazábal then handed Donald the responsibility of leading Europe out in the Sunday Singles against Bubba Watson, and Donald duly set the tone for one of the greatest comebacks in the history of the Ryder Cup, winning his match 2&1.

Donald had entered the record books of his own accord a year previously when in 2011 he became the first player to top the season-long money lists on both sides of the Atlantic, winning the Player of the Year award on the PGA TOUR and Golfer of the Year in Europe in the process.

His four victories that season included the WGC-Accenture Match Play, defeating Ryder Cup teammate Martin Kaymer in the final to reach World Number One for the first time.

He also won the Scottish Open at Castle Stuart and the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth, a title he successfully defended in 2012 to take his total of victories on the DP World Tour to seven.

Donald returned to the Ryder Cup arena in 2018 when he was selected as a Vice Captain by Thomas Bjørn at Le Golf National in Paris, a role he also performed last year at Whistling Straits under Pádraig Harrington.

[Images Courtesy of Getty Images]