Luke Donald will soon have a decision to make. The swell of support from Europe’s successful Ryder Cup team for Donald taking the captaincy again in 2025 plus, bluntly, the lack of obvious alternatives means the Englishman is certain to be offered a follow-up. This will be informal at first, with the scenario crystallising in the early part of next year.
Captaincy the Donald way – the very definition of thorough – is exhausting. The competitor in him will want to see whether he can retain the cup in the cauldron of New York’s Bethpage. There are, however, a multitude of elements to contemplate. Winning 16½-11½ at home is one thing; backing it up on American soil another entirely.
“I’ll obviously consider it,” Donald said. “I’ve certainly not given it any thought at the moment. I want to enjoy right now. I want to enjoy this week. It’s not an easy job. It took a lot of time, a lot of effort, a lot of thinking. So I would have to seriously sit down and consider that with my wife and my family.
“I can walk and think I’ve done an amazing job this week. The players are really happy, we won and leave that as my legacy.”
Or? “New York is an interesting place. They have fans who will be very boisterous and very loud. You know what the energy will be like there. To be able to somehow turn that energy to your side is probably the secret off the top of my head. I know how to create a culture where the team gets unified, but it’s about blocking out that noise.
“It is a big task. It has been 14 months of a lot of workflow planning, a lot of thinking, a lot of moving, a lot of Zooms. So again, I’m not going to think about that right now. That’s for another time.”
Francesco Molinari would seem the most serious alternative if Donald decides to exit the Ryder Cup scene. The potential harnessing of New York’s Italian community adds to his appeal. Picking the US captain for 2025 is an even trickier business; the name of Tiger Woods has been floated but it appears he would rather wait until 2027 and Adare Manor. The Limerick venue is owned by Woods’s close friend JP McManus.
Donald reported a mild hangover as the Europeans dispersed from their Rome hotel on Monday morning. His own celebrations ended at 4am. “These moments you get to share with other teammates are what makes it special,” he said.
“It’s quite lonely sometimes, golf. You spend a lot of time on your own in hotel rooms. To have that team environment … I’m jealous of other sports sometimes as they get to do that a lot. This is why we embrace this week as much as possible and really try to create an environment and culture the guys really enjoy and stuff they will always remember.
“I think I created an environment and culture where they could succeed but when Friday comes I have very little control. I really give them very little on the golf course, just the odd club on the par threes. There’s not a lot I can give them. These are highly skilled individuals. They know how to play golf.
“But I was proud that we did so well on Friday and Saturday. Those are the times when we are partnerships in fourballs and foursomes, especially foursomes. That is ultimate trust in your partner and to go 7‑1 in foursomes was pretty special. That was the key to our victory.”
For Rory McIlroy there was redemption after a poor showing at Whistling Straits in 2021. His frustrations reduced him to tears in the immediate aftermath of a 19-9 defeat. Two years on, an inspired McIlroy was Europe’s top points-scorer. He takes on different emotional form in Ryder Cup events.
“It is not just Rory, the whole 12 understand again how unbelievable an event it is,” Donald said.
“The raw emotion we saw two years ago, that raw emotion comes out. He understands it is the best event he gets to play because of those emotions, because of the crowd, because of the atmosphere, sharing this stuff with the team.
“That always comes back down to that need to feel like you want to belong to something, it is why family is important for all of us. You have to have a collective and feel like that. We don’t get to feel that very often in golf and this week, we do.”
With the endorsement of McIlroy et al, surely Donald will not pass up the opportunity to sample those feelings again. Will he?