Luke Donald vows to see out Ryder Cup captaincy as Henrik Stenson’s replacement

Luke Donald, who has replaced Henrik Stenson as Europe’s Ryder Cup captain, insists there is no chance of him saying “ciao” as well before next September’s match in Italy.

New European Ryder Cup captain Luke Donald poses with the trophy. Picture: Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images.
New European Ryder Cup captain Luke Donald poses with the trophy. Picture: Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images.

The Englishman, a former world No 1 who played on the winning team in all four of his appearances in the biennial event, has been handed the role after Stenson was stripped of his captaincy duties before joining the breakaway LIV Golf Series.

Donald, who had been in the frame when Stenson was appointed in March, will lead the Europeans into battle against the Americans at Marco Simone Golf Club in Rome next September.

“The opportunity to be a Ryder Cup captain is one of the greatest honours I can have in my golfing career,” he said. “I have signed a contract, and I intend to see that through.

" Yeah, I'm giving you my word that I will be here for the next 14 months. I'm excited about this opportunity, I really am. The Ryder Cup means so much to me and I'm not going to take this lightly, so I will see you in Rome.”

The 44-year-old has been given the nod ahead of Paul Lawrie and Robert Karlsson, the two others who’d initially been in the mix in a process that involved the three most recent captains - Darren Clarke, Thomas Bjorn and Padraig Harrington.

“To be honest, I was disappointed I didn't get the nod back in March,” added Donald, who is retaining Bjorn and Edoardo Molinari, both of whom had been appointed by Stenson in his short reign, as vice-captains. “But sometimes we're given second chances. I grabbed it and I'm thoroughly looking forward to making the most of it. So I'm very, very excited.”

It remains to be seen if Ryder Cup stalwarts like Lee Westwood, Sergio Garcia, Ian Poulter and Martin Kaymer will be eligible for the event’s 44th edition after joining Greg Norman’s breakaway LIV Golf Series.

They were all handed £100,000 fines and also banned from playing in last month’s Genesis Scottish Open, though Poulter teed up at The Renaissance Club along with three other LIV players through an appeal process that is still ongoing.

“Obviously part of being a captain is to create a strong 12-man unified team, and I'll be working on that over the next 14 months,” said Donald, who put the first point on the board in the Sunday singles as Europe pulled off the ‘Miracle at Medinah’ in 2012.

“I'm not here really to talk about LIV and whether they will be eligible or not. That's to be seen and kind of a hypothetical question. But, over the next few months, hopefully we'll have some clarity on that situation and we can start making some decisions about that when they become more clear.”

Donald said it wasn’t his place to “judge” Stenson for his decision, which was also raised with Guy Kinnings, the European Ryder Cup director, as he announced the new captain.

“We're disappointed but Henrik made his decision and we respect that,” said Kinnings. “We are now just excited to get behind Luke. Things happen for a reason. We have now got a great captain. We will get behind him and do everything to be ready to win next year.”

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