Ryder Cup: Luke Donald named Europe captain, replacing Henrik Stenson

By Iain CarterBBC golf correspondent
Luke Donald and Padraig Harrington
Donald (left) was one of Padraig Harrington's vice-captains at last year's record Ryder Cup defeat at Whistling Straits

Luke Donald has pledged loyalty to Europe after being appointed Ryder Cup captain, replacing Henrik Stenson who was sacked for defecting to LIV Golf.

The former world number one will lead Europe's quest to win back the trophy from the United States in Rome in 2023.

He was passed over for the role when Stenson was appointed in March.

Donald tweeted that he was "excited and truly honoured" to be named captain, adding he was "looking forward to getting my team ready for Rome".

He takes over in unprecedented circumstances with Stenson's sacking symptomatic of the bitter power struggle dominating men's golf.

The Swede was stripped of the captaincy after only 127 days because he signed a reported £40m contract with the Saudi Arabian-funded LIV series.

On Sunday, the 46-year-old Swede claimed a £3.3m winner's cheque with a two-stroke victory in his first LIV appearance at Bedminster in New Jersey.

Donald is the first English skipper since Sir Nick Faldo, who led the losing side in 2008. The 44-year-old was re-interviewed for the job soon after Stenson was axed a fortnight ago.

Thomas Bjorn, the last victorious European captain in 2018, was also considered along with Scotland's Paul Lawrie and Swede Robert Karlsson.

The new captain played in four Ryder Cups from 2004 until 2012 and was on the winning side on each occasion.

In his amateur career, Donald also appeared in two winning Walker Cup teams for Great Britain and Ireland.

He was an assistant to Bjorn in Paris four years ago and was again part of the backroom team led by Padraig Harrington in the record 19-9 defeat at Whistling Straits in 2021.

Four members of that team, Sergio Garcia, Lee Westwood, Ian Poulter and Bernd Wiesberger have been recruited by LIV Golf and it is unclear if they will be available to play in Italy.

The US side has lost Dustin Johnson, Bryson DeChambeau, Brooks Koepka and Patrick Reed to the LIV roster.

A seven-time winner on the European Tour, Donald collected 17 professional titles and spent 56 weeks at the top of golf's world rankings.

A calm, unflappable figure he faces a similarly determined character in Zach Johnson who captains the United States for the first time for the match at the Marco Simone Golf and Country Club from 29 September 2023.

The 46-year-old Iowan appeared in only one winning team in five Ryder Cup playing appearances.

Bjorn and Italian Edoardo Molinari were appointed by Stenson as vice-captains and it is thought they will continue in those roles.

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