From a repeat to LIVers, candidates for ’25 Euro Ryder Cup captain

From a repeat to LIVers, candidates for ’25 Euro Ryder Cup captain
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Who will be the next European Ryder Cup captain?

Fresh off Team Europe’s 16.5-11.5 win in Rome, it’s a question many are asking — and there’s an abundance of candidates.

Let’s take a look at who’s on the shortlist for the captaincy and showcase why they could lead the European squad at Bethpage Black on Long Island in 2025.

Luke Donald

“Two more years!”

That was the chant Rory McIlroy ignited shortly after Donald led the Europeans to victory in Rome.

It seemed like everything Donald touched in the Eternal City turned to gold. That was evident in the result — and his players’ opinion of their captain.

“The way (Donald’s) been this week has been phenomenal,” Tommy Fleetwood said. “He’s honestly so high up in all of our … we just look at Luke on another level.”

If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. However, when Donald was asked if he’d like to be Europe’s first repeat captain since Bernard Gallacher (1991, ’93, ’95), the 45-year-old Englishman wasn’t looking that far ahead.

“I haven’t been asked yet,” Donald said.

Justin Rose

As the oldest member of this year’s European squad, the 43-year-old Englishman won the Nicklaus-Jacklin Award in his sixth Ryder Cup for exemplifying the spirit of the event.

Rose had several clutch putts en route to earning 1.5 points, but he was even more valuable in the team room, providing a veteran presence to a youthful European team.

“Probably the first tee shot on the Friday, [Rose] saw I was nervous,” Ryder Cup rookie Robert MacIntyre said several days after the event. “I was almost crying walking off the range.

“But when we had done all the TV cameras and all that, he comes over, put his arm around me and goes, ‘Everything is going to be alright, this will be over in two-and-a-half minutes.’ He was brilliant — he’s so experienced, he kept me calm, he trusted me, he believed in me.”

Rose, the 2013 U.S. Open champion, should certainly get his shot at a captaincy in the future, but he might still have hopes of playing in one more Ryder Cup as he’ll be 45 in two years.

Edoardo/Francesco Molinari

Rome was great to the European team, and if it wants to bring some of the vibes from Italy to New York, it should look no further than its Italian stats guru.

Edoardo Molinari, 42, who made his lone Ryder Cup appearance in 2010, was a vice captain for the first time in 2023 and relied heavily on analytics, which was a valuable asset to the captain’s room.

“I spent a little bit more time with him just because of the statistics,” Donald said, “because of trying to figure out ways to tell all my guys why they were going to win.”

But beyond his analytical approach, Molinari, the 2005 U.S. Amateur champion, is beloved by Europe’s players.

“The guru?” McIlroy said when asked about Molinari. “He has formed a very close relationship with some of the players over the last few years. There’s a big level of trust that he obviously knows what he’s talking about, and what he’s giving us is good information.”

Europe can also look at Edoardo’s younger brother, Francesco, the 2018 Open Champion winner, to fill its captaincy void. The 40-year-old, who was also a vice captain this year, is a three-time Ryder Cupper (2010, ’12, ’18) and was on the winning side each time. In those three appearances, he compiled a 5-4-2 record, going 5-0-0 in 2018.

Padraig Harrington

The Irishman’s first go-around at the helm didn’t go as planned, with Europe suffering its worst-ever defeat two years ago at Whistling Straits.

However, his team was still very fond of him.

“I know how much we all wish we could have done more for [Harrington],” Matt Fitzpatrick said after Europe’s 2021 defeat. “But he’s been a humongous part of our year and this week, and he has actually played a role in a lot of our careers, watching him win majors and everything. I know we all wish we could have done more for him, but he’s still an amazing guy and an amazing captain.”

It’s possible that the 52-year-old could get another crack at a captainship, similar to Davis Love III earning the nod for the U.S. in 2016 after being the captain during Team USA’s collapse in 2012, known as the “Miracle at Medinah.”

Harrington was involved with the 2023 squad, but was not on-site at Marco Simone. Maybe after a few years off, he’ll want to re-enter the fold. Though, he might also decide that he’s had his time at the captainship.

The LIVers — Sergio Garcia, Lee Westwood, Ian Poulter, Graeme McDowell and Paul Casey

Two years ago, it seemed like a foregone conclusion that all these names would eventually captain Team Europe — especially the first three.

LIV Golf, however, has muddied the waters.

All five of those Ryder Cup stalwarts joined the Saudi-backed circuit last year. As a result, Garcia, Poulter and Westwood resigned their DP World Tour membership, which is required to participate in the Ryder Cup. Garcia, Europe’s all-time points leader, reportedly tried to pay his sanctions at the last minute so he could become eligible for the event, though it’s unlikely he would have been picked for the team.

Maybe in the near future, the fracture that’s currently in professional golf will be mended, especially with the PGA Tour-PIF partnership agreement. But right now, it appears the wound is still too fresh.

For most of the year following LIV’s inception, there was a lot of dissension between LIV and non-LIV European players, particularly McIlroy and Garica. However, it seems cooler heads are starting to prevail. McIlroy and Garcia have supposedly worked out their differences, while Jon Rahm has been a staunch supporter of Garcia, a fellow Spaniard, calling his ban “stupid.”

If there’s one LIV player who would be the most interesting captain in two years, it’s Garcia.

All signs point to Tiger Woods being offered the American captainship at Bethpage, the site of Woods’ 2002 U.S. Open win. If Woods accepts the honor, he could possibly go head-to-head with Garcia, one of the biggest rivals (relatively speaking) of Woods’ career.

Garcia and Bethpage have a turbulent past. The 43-year-old finished fourth at the ’02 U.S. Open, but he created quite an uproar that week, feuding with the New York fans and allegedly flipping the bird at them during a soggy Round 2.

He’d love a chance to stick it to New Yorkers in 2025 by handing the U.S. its second straight Ryder Cup loss, but as we learned between the last two Ryder Cups, two years in golf can feel like an eternity.

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