In January, signs were pointing toward Luke Donald becoming the next European Ryder Cup captain, but things took a sharp turn to the Englishman's disappointment.
Team Europe's last captain, Padraig Harrington, endorsed Donald to captain the ship in Italy next year when Lee Westwood removed his name from consideration. Donald, a vice-captain for Europe in last year's Ryder Cup, was "humbled" by Harrington's comments.
Donald said he made a half-hour captain's pitch to Darren Clarke, Thomas Bjorn and Padraig Harrington, the last three European Ryder Cup captains, along with chairman of the DP World Tour tournament committee, David Howell, and DP World Tour CEO Keith Pelley. However, earlier this week, Henrik Stenson was named Europe's next captain and Donald, 44, sees his window closing on an opportunity he'd relish.
“I thought I had a good chance this year. Hopefully, that’s not my chance gone,” Donald said to Golfweek. “We have a lot of very worthy candidates, legends of the Ryder Cup, guys like Sergio [Garcia], I don’t know how this whole Saudi thing is going to play out and if anyone is going to get knocked out because of that. That’s a little bit of a question mark.”
Full-field scores from Valspar Championship
Anyone who is officially associated with the newly formed and Saudi-backed LIV Golf Invitational, which launched Wednesday, would not be considered by the R&A to captain or play in the Ryder Cup. If Westwood and Ian Poulter don't eventually bolt to the LIV Golf Invitational, they are front runners to be future captains along with Garcia, Justin Rose and Graeme McDowell, though McDowell said two weeks ago that he isn't "quite ready" to be captain.
The next chance for Donald, a four-time Ryder Cupper, to be named captain would be 2025 at Bethpage Black.
“It’s a tough crowd (at Bethpage), but I haven’t given them too much ammo during my career,” Donald said. “I think I’d be fine and would love the opportunity.”
In the meantime, the world's 574th-ranked player is eyeing a consolation for this week's letdown. Donald shot an opening 68 at the Valspar Championship, where he notched his last PGA Tour victory exactly 10 years ago and regained the top spot in the world rankings.