Luke Donald shot a respectable 2-under 70 in the first round of the Rocket Mortgage Classic Thursday, but the conversation after his round had little to do with his golf game.
Donald spoke with Golfweek after walking off the course at Detroit Golf Club about a report in the Telegraph that he will be named as Henrik Stenson’s replacement to captain the European squad in the 2023 Ryder Cup.
Stenson, of course, was stripped of his captaincy after his decision to join the Saudi-backed LIV Golf Invitational Series.
Donald said that nothing was official at this point, but he feels he has a “very good chance” to be leading Europe next fall at Marco Simone Golf Club in Rome.
The former world No. 1 did have some thoughts on Stenson choosing to accept the position in March knowing he wouldn’t be permitted to be a part of LIV Golf and still captain the team.
“I was surprised that he would put his name forward if his plan was to go to LIV, which, you know, the rumors, and I hate to talk about rumors, but rumors are that he’d been in contact with the rival tours, whatever they were, and he was very interested,” Donald said. “And I think everyone knew that. The European tour knew that. They obviously took his word that he wasn’t going to do it. We all have to sign a clause or contract saying that we won’t have anything to do with (LIV).
“I’m disappointed I guess that he would put his name forward and then go to LIV. I understand certain guys going to LIV in certain situations in their careers and stuff, that makes sense. But obviously something big to give up.”
Donald also said he had been approached by LIV to be a part of their broadcast team, which he quickly turned down.
The last Englishman to captain the European squad in the Ryder Cup was Nick Faldo in 2008, which the United States won – on home soil at Valhalla – 16.5 to 11.5. It was, coincidentally, the only European Ryder Cup team Donald didn’t play on from 2004-12.
Donald was told that an official announcement would come early next week, and assured everyone that if he is chosen, his position as captain won’t be leveraged into another offer.
“If I got this captaincy I would live up to my word and see it through,” he said. “Let me put it that way. I wouldn’t be doing a Henrik.”