Ryder Cup: Luke Donald on why he’s captaining Europe against US in New York in 2025

Europe's Ryder Cup team gathers round captain Luke Donald to all hold the trophy
Image caption,Donald (centre) will be the first European to captain multiple Ryder Cup teams since Bernard Gallacher did three from 1991-95

By Iain Carter

BBC golf correspondent

After joyous “Oles” that greeted the lifting of the trophy, the players spontaneously belted out their own chant. And it was telling.

It sent an emphatic message, one that has now become a reality – Luke Donald is staying on as Europe’s Ryder Cup skipper.

“Two more years,” those jubilant golfers had cried as a smiling Donald clutched the precious pot of gold in Rome sunshine at the start of October.

The Englishman had piloted the continent to one of its most impressive performances, bouncing back from record defeat by the United States in 2021. Not bad for someone who had not even been first choice for the job.

After the continent completed their 16½-11½ victory, the task of trying to defend the trophy in New York in 2025 was always going to be Donald’s if he wanted it.

The 45-year-old former world number one was an outstanding captain in Italy and is, by far, the most qualified figure to lead Europe’s quest for a rare away victory.

Rory McIlroy says winning a Ryder Cup without the advantage of home support and course set up is one of the toughest assignments in golf. He is correct. Europe last did it in 2012 and before that in 2004.

It is worth noting Donald was a player in both of those contests.

The US, meanwhile, have not managed to triumph on their travels since 1993 and given the way that Europe’s captain outthought and out-motivated his opposite number, Zach Johnson, in Rome, that losing run never threatened to end this autumn.

“It was very gratifying and very humbling, lifting that trophy on the Sunday afternoon and hearing the players want me to return,” Donald, who stepped in after original captain Henrik Stenson chose to join LIV Golf, told BBC Sport.

“I didn’t want to let the guys down after they were so supportive of me trying to do it again, but it wasn’t until a couple of weeks ago that we really sat down and had some chats with my family and decided that this was a great opportunity.”

Donald is driven by the desire to make history. Only Tony Jacklin has led Europe to success on both sides of the Atlantic, with wins in 1985 and two years later at Muirfield Village in Ohio spectacularly ending a six-decade unbeaten home record for the US.

With his reappointment, Donald has the opportunity to elevate himself to Jacklin-like status. He has already played on four winning teams, including those two away triumphs at Oak Hill and Medinah.

“The thought that I could potentially create some history as only the second European captain to go back-to-back winning is enticing to me,” Donald added.

“I’ve always loved those challenges and this is what motivates me and it was a big part of the decision.”

At Bethpage in 2025 there is a possibility that he could come up against an American side led by Tiger Woods, although the 15-times major champion distanced himself from that prospect when he spoke to reporters in the Bahamas earlier this week.

“I’d be happy to go up against anyone,” Donald said. “If it’s Tiger great, if it’s anyone else great. My job now is to concentrate on my plans and getting my team and the qualification process and all that kind of stuff in place.”

The skipper will have to decide whether to retain six wildcard picks and whether to alter qualifying criteria, especially with more European talent graduating to the PGA Tour in the United States.

“Those are the sort of thoughts I will be having over the next few weeks and months,” Donald said. “That will be a priority, in terms of the qualification we will have to have a deep dive and figure out what will be the best way to do it, to give us the best opportunity for success again.”

Donald will lead his team against what are expected to be vociferous and potentially hostile New York crowds at Bethpage.

“Ryder Cups are always passionate. We see that at every match and it will be no different in New York,” he said.

“We know they are boisterous, we know they will be loud and now I have 22 months to try to figure out some plans to counter that.”

And he knows that his role will differ in character for his second term. He will have no say in the course set up and the order of proceedings and he will also need to adapt his own strategies for the challenge of an away contest.

“It will not just be copy and paste from 2023,” he said. “We will have to think about some new things to put into this Ryder Cup captaincy.”

Having led a relatively young team in Italy there is a good chance many of those Rome heroes will remain on duty for the 2025 match. “I’d love to have all 12 guys there again,” Donald smiled.

“Who knows whether it will happen? There is always upcoming talent that is going to fill those roles, but we had a great mixture of some experienced players and some up and coming young talent.”

Whatever the make up https://gondrongjabrik.com of his team, Donald will motivate them to become history-makers.

“History is super important,” he said. “It was a central message to inspire those who were on duty in the last match.

“I now have some opportunities to create my own history as a captain. But there are a lot pieces to put in the puzzle before that can happen.”

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