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Golf Monthly
Golf Monthly
Paul Higham

Five Reasons Why Luke Donald Is The Right Choice To Be Ryder Cup Captain Again In 2025

Luke Donald celebrates winning the Ryder Cup.

“Two more years” chanted the European players as they celebrated their Ryder Cup success in Rome, and they were absolutely right as Luke Donald was confirmed as the man to lead them at Bethpage in 2025.

When Donald was drafted in to replace Henrik Stenson it was a solid if unspectacular move, but he didn’t put a foot wrong in Rome and to a man the European team seem to hang on his every word.

But let’s face it, winning on the road has become the real test with the home side winning the last five Ryder Cups in relative comfort with a couple of record wins thrown in there.

Rory McIlroy illustrated the size of the challenge that lies in wait in New York in two years, saying: "I think one of the biggest accomplishments in golf right now is winning an away Ryder Cup. And that's what we're going to do at Bethpage."

His confidence is admirable, but Europe will have a huge fight on their hands to survive the feverish New York crowds and somehow win in America – and if they’re to stand any chance then they only had one option - keep Donald at the helm. 

And here’s why it's the right move….

The players love him

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Bernard Gallacher was the last man to captain Europe in successive Ryder Cups when he did his third in a row in 1995, but through a combination of necessity and perfect timing, now is absolutely the right time for back-to-back skippers.

"I think everyone sitting here would be very happy to have him again," said McIlroy, and you have to factor what the players want in all this.

As an away Ryder Cup is a different animal than playing at home and you need every advantage you can muster.

The relationships Donald has built up, the memories they created, the trust he had in the younger players especially will all be worth their weight in gold in the heat of battle on the road.

Donald will have learned how his players perform under pressure, he’ll have learned a thing or two about himself too, and who knows he may be even better second time around!

The New York fan factor

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Let’s not kid ourselves here, if the crowd got a bit spicy at Marco Simone it’ll seem like playground stuff compared to the well-oiled American fans out in the Long Island sun at Bethpage.

It’ll be loud, spiky, and downright nasty at times too, and it’ll take some careful crowd management and some seriously good golf to quieten them down.

In that white-hot atmosphere who else would you want than cool hand Luke? He’s spent enough time in the USA to know how to get on the right side of the fans and there can’t be too many people with a bad word to say about him.

He’s about as far from a divisive figure as you could get, and his cool, calm and collected demeanour is just what Europe need in that caldron of an atmosphere.

Who else is there?

(Image credit: Getty Images)

I do think continuity is a key in this situation – it’s nice to have a new captain every time but Bethpage and New York is no ordinary away game, especially after what happened with Joe LaCava and Patrick Cantlay in Rome.

The USA side will be stoking the crowd up every chance they get and it’s just not the time and place for a newcomer like Edoardo Molinari or his brother Francesco to thrive.

And let’s not forget the LIV Golf players cast aside by Europe, with Ian Poulter, Sergio Garcia and Lee Westwood all nailed-on captains over the next few editions before they resigned their DP World Tour memberships.

Will they be allowed back in? Maybe, and in the long-term that could be a good thing, but Europe’s unit performed so well that having an entirely new team in place may cause more problems than solutions.

If there’s any lingering issues with the likes of McIlroy and co. then that won’t help matters either – and if those players are to come back in the fold then it’d be best in maybe a back room capacity in the USA before getting more involved back in Europe.

Europe’s succession planning has always been spot-on but losing the LIV guys has left a gap, and Donald serving a four-year term is the answer to filling that void, while giving Europe the best chance of success. It’s a perfect storm.

He got everything right in Rome

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Perhaps the best reason of all - he's just a damn good captain! He did just about everything right in Rome and although captains can't win a Ryder Cup they can lose it by making the wrong decisions.

From his wildcard picks to his pairings, his format switch to his team room messages, from his choice of outfits to that surprisingly impressive speech - Italian and all!

Starting with foursomes worked a treat while one of his pairings produced a record 18-hole Ryder Cup match victory - over the world No.1 and a five-time Major champion no less.

Quietly confident was his demeanour but there was an inner steel that bubbled under the surface, especially when dealing with the McIlroy incident, that showed he's not one to mess with.

He was prepared for everything, despite essentially being a stand-in, and he really "gets it" when it comes to the Ryder Cup - and made sure his players bought in to everything. After that performance, who wouldn't want him to run it back?

Doesn’t know how to lose Ryder Cups

Donald won all four Ryder Cups he played in and his one (so far) as captain - he was also a vice-captain in Paris and Whistling Straits so went 1-1 in that role but it's the major ones that count.

As a player and captain he doesn't know how to lose, some people just have that magic touch and nowhere will it be needed more than at Bethpage against a hurt USA side eager for revenge.

And remember Donald had to replace Stenson so he was probably in the mix for this Ryder Cup anyway (along with the LIV trio) - and there must be an advantage to having that level of comfort entering the job, getting almost a head start on whoever captains the USA next time.

Is it a risk? Of course, but his legacy is safe after Rome, and if Europe are to buck this trend of heavy away defeats then Luke Donald is the man they need at the helm.

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