Thomas Bjorn backs players in calling for Luke Donald to stay on as Ryder Cup captain

Thomas Bjorn, one of the vice-captains, and captain Luke Donald look on during last week's Ryder Cup in Rome. Picture: Jamie Squire/Getty Images.Thomas Bjorn, one of the vice-captains, and captain Luke Donald look on during last week's Ryder Cup in Rome. Picture: Jamie Squire/Getty Images.
Thomas Bjorn, one of the vice-captains, and captain Luke Donald look on during last week's Ryder Cup in Rome. Picture: Jamie Squire/Getty Images.
Thomas Bjorn has echoed Europe’s Ryder Cup-winning players in Rome in calling for Luke Donald to stay on as captain for the 2025 clash on American soil.

A second stint was never on the cards for Bjorn after he masterminded Europe’s brilliant 2018 win in France due to the fact there was a long list of potential future captains at that time.

But it remains to be seen if the likes of Lee Westwood, Sergio Garcia and Ian Poulter will now get that opportunity after they missed out on playing any part in last week’s event as a direct result of becoming LIV Golf players.

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In the immediate aftermath of Europe winning back the trophy with an impressive 16.5-11.5 win in the Italian capital on Sunday, Donald’s players chanted “two more years” and Rory McIlroy said in the team’s press conference that they’d all be happy for the Englishman to be at the helm again at Bethpage Black.

Speaking on Monday, Donald said he would give it “consideration” once he’d had a proper chance to enjoy this success and Bjorn, one of his vice-captains at Marco Simone Golf & Country Club, is hoping the answer will be ‘yes’.

“For this generation of players, I am very much in favour that it’s them, they decide what they want and how they want it,” the Dane told The Scotsman after arriving in Scotland to play in this week’s Alfred Dunhill Championship, which starts at Carnoustie, Kingsbarns and St Andrews on Thursday.

“The relationship between the captain and the players is so close today and I think they seem very keen on it at the moment. You have to let things settle before you make any decision, but, if that’s what they want and they believe it’s the right thing for them, then I think you have to listen to that.

“I think we‘ve always had the thought that nobody should do it twice (Bernard Gallacher was the last multiple captain when he did three in a row from 1991-1995), but that was also because we had a lot of people lined up to do so there was a natural progression. I don’t think that’s there now.

“I’d like to see Luke do it again. If he was up for it and he thinks it is the right thing for him and the players would love the idea, why would you not go with that? But maybe that conversation needs to take place in six to eight weeks when things have settled down.”

McIlroy spoke on Monday about how he felt the absence of the likes of Westwood, Garcia and Poulter had allowed players, notably himself and Jon Rahm, to flourish as Europe won the trophy back after a 19-9 hammering at Whistling Straits two years ago.

“Listen, I’ve worked with a lot of different captains, great captains,” added Bjorn, speaking after playing a practice round on the Old Course in a strong wind but still feeling it had been a “privilege” to be out on the hallowed turf.

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“I enjoyed this one so much that it is up there with my top ones in the sense that I love Luke and I love this team. As much as though every team has been great, I think this is my favourite team as a group. All those young players in it and Jon and Rory suddenly finding their rightful place as leaders from within.

“You can see a new generation of players forming an environment that fits them. You are sitting in a corner of a team room or on a buggy and it’s a very good sign for European golf. A lot of these guys will be in the next many European teams and you then start looking at others like Rasmus [Hojgaard], Vincent Norrman, Alex Fitzpatrick and others, there’s a lot of young guys who are going to want to fight their way to get into the team and play with this group of guys.”

Bjorn was initially appointed as a vice captain for the 44th edition by Henrik Stenson before staying on in the role after Donald was then appointed after the Swede was stripped of the post following his decision to join LIV Golf.

“When Luke asked me if I would help him, we had a nice conversation about it and he felt I could contribute and I felt I took on a role for him to deliver the little things that you maybe don’t think about as a captain sometimes. He took some things on board but disregarded others and rightly so,” he said.

“The whole process and the journey, I was comfortable with as I was always a bit fearful of how I would feel during the week because you are going from having that experience in France and wondering what would be like in this one.

“But I have to say that I have grown such a close relationship with Luke and, when got there, we knew the players, what they are and what they stand for and desperately wanted them to achieve because I think we had a very good backroom team.

“Obviously Francesco and Edoardo [the Molinaris] are very close friends of mine. I don’t have to say anything about Chema [Jose Maria Olazabal]. He is who he is. He brings all the greatness and we also had Nico [Nicolas Colsaerts]. Along with the players, they helped me enjoy every moment of it.

“I thought it was amazing. From Luke’s captaincy, to how the players performed and I also thought the DP World Tour staging team deserves a gold medal. The site, the way it was planned and the way it was set it, it was beyond anything I could have imagined. Considering how great France was and that was natural spectator course. For them to create something that rivalled France was fantastic.”

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As either a player, captain or vice captain, Bjorn has now been involved in nine Ryder Cups and is rightly proud of his record. “Well, 8 and 1,” he said, smiling. “I’ve been fortunate. I’ve been very lucky to play in some great teams, be around some great teams, but it is pretty amazing. I’ve had fun with it, that’s for sure.”

Three members of the triumphant team in Italy - Tommy Fleetwood, Matthew Fitzpatrick and Bob MacIntyre - are joining Bjorn in the 22nd staging of the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship.

“I hope so,” said Bjorn in reply to being asked if should be an extended celebration. “They deserve it here this week whether they are in the world as they play all the way to the DP World Tour Championship, we should all celebrate this team and what they achieved as it’s amazing for the tour.

“You can’t help single out Bob for this week. We are all very proud of Bob and the way he dealt with the whole thing. By his own admission, he didn’t feel he was playing his best golf coming into it and to get two and a half points out of three was pretty cool. I think we are all very proud of what he achieved.”



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