Luke Donald named Team Europe Ryder Cup captain

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Luke Donald has been confirmed as the European Captain for the 2023 Ryder Cup at Marco Simone Golf and Country Club in Rome following Henrik Stenson’s controversial LIV Golf move.

Donald, who has been a vice-captain at the last two contests, has represented Europe in the Ryder Cup four times as a player, winning every time, including the 2012 ‘Miracle at Medinah’ when he led Team Europe out in the singles. 

The 44-year-old former World No.1 was chosen as Stenson’s replacement ahead of the likes of 2018 captain Thomas Bjorn, Paul Lawrie, Robert Karlsson and Edoardo Molinari.

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“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. 

Luke Donald with Ryder Cup Europe director Guy Kinnings.

“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.”

Donald was one of the favourites to get the role before Stenson was appointed back in March, and was immediately installed as the favourite to replace the Swede when he was stripped of the role in July having breached his agreement with Ryder Cup Europe by making the move to LIV Golf.

Henrik Stenson, pictured with Greg Norman, after winning on his LIV Golf debut at Trump National Bedminster.

The Swede made his debut in the rebel series over the weekend, winning the Bedminster event and taking home $4.75m in prize money.

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Before losing his role as captain Stenson had appointed Bjorn and Molinari as vice-captains and the pair will remain part of Donald’s team.

“In my opinion, it was essential that Thomas and Edoardo remained part of the team,” the Englishman said. 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 was part of Padraig Harrington's backroom team at Whistling Straits.

Donald, who was the first player to top the season-long money lists on both sides of the Atlantic in 2011, was also named Player of the Year on both the PGA Tour and European Tour in the same year having won four times. 

His victories 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.

“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,” Guy Kinnings, European Ryder Cup Director, said.

“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.”

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Luke Donald was part of the team in 2012 in Medinah.

Captain Fantastic: Luke Donald’s Ryder Cup record

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.  

The Englishman 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. 

Sergio Garcia, Paul Casey, Padraig Harrington and Luke Donald celebrate the 2006 Ryder Cup 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 he duly set the tone for one of the greatest comebacks in the history of the Ryder Cup, winning his match 2&1. 

Luke Donald celebrates Europe 2018 Ryder Cup victory.

Having missed out on the 2014 victory and 2016 defeat, 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.

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