DETROIT – Luke Donald received a few more messages than usual on his phone after he finished his opening round at the Rocket Mortgage Classic.
They were not to congratulate him on shooting a solid score of 2-under 70 at Detroit Golf Club.
“There is nothing official to report,” Donald said. “I’ve had talks with Jay (Kennings, director of the Ryder Cup) on the European Tour. That’s all I know now. I know I have a very good chance, Thomas Bjorn and two other players under consideration.”
In March, when Stenson was initially cast for the role, Donald was seen as a bridesmaid.
“I thought I had a good chance this year. I hope this isn’t my chance lost,” Donald said at the time. “We have a lot of very worthy candidates, Ryder Cup legends, guys like Sergio, I don’t know how this whole Saudi thing will happen and whether No one would get out because of that. That’s a bit of a question mark.”
It turned out to be a bigger question mark than anyone thought, as Stenson reversed courses and joined LIV Golf, the Saudi Arabia royal-backed competition tour that has been inundated with controversy over that country’s poor record of human rights abuses and other atrocities. Stenson, who makes his LIV debut this week, was canned two weeks ago. Donald said he was surprised by Stenson’s change.
“I definitely had some of my best moments on the golf course in the Ryder Cups. What a great honor to represent Europe in the Ryder Cup, and I would like to be captain. That would be a huge honor too,” Donald said. His plan is to go to LIV, which is, you know, rumors, and I hate talking about rumors, but rumors have it that he was in touch with the rival tours whatever they were, and he was very interested. And I think everyone knew that, and the European Tour knew that. Obviously, they took his word that he wouldn’t. We all have to sign a clause or a contract that says we don’t have anything to do with the LIV. I’m disappointed I think he’ll give his name and then move on to LIV. I understand that some guys go to LIV, in certain situations in their careers and stuff, and that makes sense. But it’s clearly a big thing to give up.”
Donald said the concept of LIV was intriguing, and that everyone had a number, but that he wasn’t called to play in the 48-player league. He was asked about joining the TV ad crew.
“I flipped it around very quickly,” he said. “A bit of a slight in my game. I know I didn’t play that great, but thanks but no thanks.”
Donald said he has been informed that a decision on the captain for Team Europe will be announced early next week. He will be the first Englishman since Nick Faldo in 2008 to hold this position.
“If I get this captain,” he said, “I will respect my word and look forward to it.” “Let me put it this way. I won’t, Henrik.”
Donald – a four-time Ryder Cup player (2004, ’06, ’10, ’12), five-time PGA Tour winner and six-time DP World Tour winner who has played college golf at Northwestern – gave a 30-minute presentation of the three most recent captains in the The Ryder Cup – Darren Clark, Thomas Bjorn and Padraig Harrington – plus David Howell, chair of the DP World Tour Championship Committee, and Keith Bailey, CEO of DP World Tour earlier this year. He said he didn’t have to make a second show. Among the finalists were Sweden’s Robert Carlson, Scotland’s Paul Lowery, and Italy’s Eduardo Molinari.
The former No. 1 in the world has served as vice captain in the previous two Ryder Cups and has called Rome, home to the site of Marco Simone Golf Club, one of his and his wife’s favorite cities.
“We’ve been through a few times,” he said. “Beautiful city, architecture and history of things to see, it’s one of my favorite places to visit.”
Perhaps in late September 2023.