Euro Ryder Cup captain Luke Donald has options; here they are, ranked

Euro Ryder Cup captain Luke Donald has options; here they are, ranked
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European Ryder Cup captain Luke Donald had to be loving what he witnessed on Sunday.

Not one but two of Donald’s prospective captain’s picks won tournaments – Sepp Straka at the PGA Tour’s John Deere Classic and Rasmus Hojgaard at the DP World Tour’s Denmark event – and likely future European stalwart Ludvig Aberg notched his best finish as a pro.

With Jon Rahm, Rory McIlroy, Viktor Hovland, Tyrrell Hatton, Matt Fitzpatrick and would-be rookie Yannick Paul currently in position to secure the six automatic berths for this September’s matches in Rome, here is a look at Donald’s options for picks at the moment, ranked in order of most likely to get the call in a couple months:

1. Tommy Fleetwood (European points – 8; World points – 6; OWGR – 22): Moliwood is a thing of the past, but not only does the two-time Ryder Cupper (4-2-3 record) bring experience, but he also is in nice form with four top-5s, including a runner-up in Canada and T-5 at the U.S. Open. There’s a strong chance he grabs an auto spot.

2. Justin Rose (EP – 86; WP – 9; OWGR – 29): Veteran had his five-Cup run end in 2021, but before that he compiled a 13-8-2 record. Like Fleetwood, he’d need a new partner, but with some new blood, he won’t be the only one. Won earlier this year at Pebble, but he’s arguably playing better golf this summer – six top-25s in his last seven events with three top-10s during that span.

3. Ludvig Aberg (European points – NR; World points – 76; OWGR – 303): Perhaps this is too high, but if Europe wants to further lay the foundation for the future, Aberg must be on the team. The 23-year-old Swede is coming off a T-4 finish at the Deere, and he hasn’t finished worse than T-40 in four starts since turning pro in early June. If it weren’t for a couple poor weekend rounds, he’d have more than one top-10. Just imagine an Aberg-McIlroy pairing in Rome.

4. Shane Lowry (European points – 9; World points – 8; OWGR – 30): I don’t know if he’s as automatic right now as some believe, but I do think he’s on the team. Went 1-2 in debut in 2021, looking solid alongside Tyrrell Hatton in fourball. Doesn’t have top-10 since Honda, though he did crack top 20 in the first three majors of the year.

5. Adrian Meronk (European points – 4; World points – 10; OWGR – 49): If Paul slips out of auto territory, Meronk could be the biggest beneficiary. At the moment, he’s got the edge over Hojgaard and Straka, as he won the Italian Open at Marco Simone and has a pair of top-5s since.

6. Rasmus Hojgaard (European points – 5; World points – 14; OWGR – 85): He’s been on the wish list for the Europeans for a while, and he’s finally back inside the top 100 in the world after winning the Made in Himmerland, just weeks after his T-3 at the KLM Open. He’s not going to partner with twin brother Nicolai, who is a good bit off the radar, but the 22-year-old Dane is another great investment for Team Europe.

7. Sepp Straka (European points – 99; World points – 7; OWGR – 27): The Tank has reentered the pick conversation after his Deere victory, which snapped him out of a mini-slump (no top-10s since PGA). He’s now won twice on the PGA Tour dating to last year. He’s a strong iron player who drives it very straight, which always plays well on European setups. He’s just not your typical European, as the Austria native was raised in Valdosta, Georgia, and attended the University of Georgia.

8. Robert MacIntyre (European points – 11; World points – 18; OWGR – 104): The lefthanded Scot was on the outside looking in 2021 before slumping toward the end of last year and dropping out of the top 100 in the world. However, he did win last year’s Italian Open and has cracked the top 10 in four of his past 10 DPWT starts. Plus, Big Shot Bob brings a little extra fire that some of the other potential rookies don’t.

9. Victor Perez (European points – 6; World points – 13; OWGR – 68): He’s losing some steam with MCs in three of his last four starts, but he did win in Abu Dhabi at the start of the year and was T-9 at the Italian Open.

10. Adrien Dumont de Chassart (European points – NR; World points – NR; OWGR – 321): At this point, it might a massive benefit picking Seamus Power, who has cooled off since a nice start to the year, or Alex Noren, who hasn’t made a major cut in three tries this year. Why not take a risk on the red-hot Belgian who won in his first pro start on the Korn Ferry before losing in a playoff the following week and tying for eighth in his third start.

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