For this Ryder Cup captain, conceded putts literally became nightmare fuel

Luke Donald looks on during the Ryder Cup opening ceremony.

Luke Donald said he had a tough time letting his Ryder Cup captaincy go.

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On the outside, Luke Donald appeared calm, cool and collected during the Ryder Cup. But as he revealed in an interview with The Times, he was “consumed” by the pressure and intensity of the event.

The former World No. 1 captained the European team to a resounding 16.5-11.5 victory over the visiting Americans at Marco Simone Golf and Country Club in Rome one month ago. Since then, his performance has been lauded, especially under the unusual circumstances in which he assumed the captaincy.

Henrik Stenson was set to take the reins of Team Europe for 2023. But after the 2016 Open winner defected to LIV Golf in the summer of 2022, he was stripped of his captaincy and Donald was tabbed to replace him.

That controversy was a distant memory in the wake of Europe’s win, with Donald’s team immediately lobbying for him to take another term as captain.

“It was certainly very gratifying to hear the players shouting, ‘Two more years,’ afterwards and it would be an amazing challenge,” Donald told The Times. “But I still need to sit down with my family and decide because it’s a big ask.”

In the interview (which you can read in full here), Donald, who is 45, remained noncommital about helming Team Europe in the 2025 Matches at Bethpage Black. The job, as it turned out, engulfed his life in ways he didn’t initially foresee.

“I didn’t realize when I said yes to the job how much it would consume me,” he said.

And after more than a year captaincy duties, Donald said it hasn’t been the easiest thing to move on from, either.

“I found it hard to settle my brain down for a couple of weeks,” he said. “I was having quite vivid dreams, mostly good ones reliving the best moments, but there was one nightmare where the U.S. were claiming certain putts hadn’t been given. Once they had figured out which ones, the score was 14.5-13.5 and I woke up in a sweat. It was a very strenuous week.”

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After dominating the opening two days of competition and leading 10.5-5.5, Europe cruised to victory during singles, squashing a potential U.S. Sunday charge before it could even begin.

When Europe finished the job only then, Donald said, did the weight of the previous 14 months start to sink in.

“I think the last time I’d cried before the Ryder Cup was seven years ago when my mum passed away but, once we won, all the emotion, the relief, the joy, it was all bundled together and it just came out,” he said. “There’s nothing that compares to that week, but I wasn’t surprised because I knew how much it meant to me. It’s probably the ultimate thing I’ve done in my career.”

You can read the The Times’ full interview with Donald here.

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