Luke Donald finally captain of Ryder Cup 2023 in Rome. Discarded in March on the first lap, the Englishman now takes over from the defenestrated Henrik Stenson and immediately makes it clear his intention to respect his contract with Ryder Cup Europe.
In unsuspecting times, the Englishman had leaked his displeasure for not having been called to lead the European team in Rome. After all, it was the perfect resume: Donald has played and won four Ryder Cups (2004, 2006, 2010 and 2012) plus one as vice-captain (2018). Out of 15 points available, he took home 10.5 points. The icing on the cake is called Medinah: in 2012 in the US with the hosts ahead 10 to 6 on the last day he overtook Bubba Watson, starting the miraculous European comeback.
As a pro, the 44-year-old (younger than the other two contenders, Lawrie and Karlsson) of Hemel Hempstead boasts seven titles on the DP World Tour and five on the PGA Tour. In his career he spent 56 weeks as world number one. The only drawback: in his career he seems to have played only two hundred races in twenty years on the European Tour (now renamed DP World Tour).
With a past as a guarantee, an armored present (“I said no to LIV Golf and for the next fourteen months I will be the captain”) is the future of Luke Donald to worry. The new captain has a certainty and at least three big question marks. The first is the confirmation of the two vice-captains chosen by his predecessor: in Rome there will be both Thomas Bjorn and Edoardo Molinari.
The successor of Padraig Harrington has however two or three knots to untie.
Luke Donald, Ryder Cup
The first is there for all to see. What will become of the European players who have chosen or will choose to play in the Arab SuperLeague? On the American front, his colleague Zac Johnson has already dictated the line: whoever plays on LIV Golf can also be a tourist in Rome 2023. He can afford it: today, of the top twenty in the world, thirteen are American (and remember that people like DJ, DeChambeau , Koepka and associates has not earned points for two months).
Luke Donald said he will communicate the decision on the separatists in time. In addition to Wiesberger, that decision to date concerns experienced players such as Garcia, Poulter and Westwood. People more like wild cards than qualifiers on the pitch.
If there is a logic there should be no room for those who play in the SuperLeague. If the contract with the current Ryder Cup professional captain has been torn, why make exceptions for professionals on the pitch?
But there is also a reason of state, given due consideration (the Ryder Cup is not a normal competition). To date, on paper there is no competition between any hypothetical Team USA 2023 and an equally hypothetical Team Europe 2023. The Americans are from another planet.
And here comes the second knot of Luke Donald’s future. How will you choose the twelve Europeans for Marco Simone? The current method foresees nine places allocated on the basis of the European Point List and the World Point List. To these must be added three wild cards at the captain’s discretion. Many people are pushing to change the criteria. Many would like to copy the American system: six players from the order of merit and six from the captain’s notebook. As mentioned, Zac Johnson can fish hands down in a large pool of players. Luke Donald today “fishes” less in a much smaller basin.
Someone dares not to leave any discretion to the captain and to have the twelve best non-LIV Europeans in the ranking play in Rome. A very democratic but difficult hypothesis. Below are the top twelve Europeans in the World Ranking and the top twelve Americans.
EUROPE – McIlroy, Rahm, Hovland, Fitzpatrick, Lowry, Fleetwood Hatton, Pieters, Power, Rose, Noren, Meronk (# 60).
USA – Scheffler, Cantlay, Thomas, Schauffele, Morikawa, Spieth, Burns, Zalatoris, Horschel, Finau, Young, Homa (# 35).
Timing is another problem: when does the qualifying period start and when does it end? In Rome 2023 there are fourteen months left that golfing speaking will certainly fly.