It looks like several huge names will have to miss out on the Ryder Cup hotseat. Here's who we're backing for the next decade
There is a school of thought that we all talk about the Ryder Cup too much – it only happens once every two years, only two continents are involved, it’s 18 holes of match play, it’s only three days, it’s no more than an exhibition, it’s become a corporate bonanza, it’s too home-centric and it’s played at the wrong time of the year.
The other way to look at it is that it’s as sensational as sport gets so why not spend most of your waking hours pondering different situations or reminiscing about Jose Maria Olazabal’s putt to win on his debut match with Seve Ballesteros and the subsequent Friday afternoon whitewash at Muirfield Village in 1987.
And so, with Padraig Harrington set to hand over the reins in a couple of weeks time, let’s turn our attentions to the Ryder Cup captain guessing games in the next decade…
Europe’s next Ryder Cup captains: 2023
Which is code for “I’ll be captain in 2023”.
As Harrington explained: “They want to get a picture who is interested and a perfect example would be obviously in Lee Westwood’s case, they needed to know whether he was interested or not and he’s thinking he got the feeling from watching it that maybe have one more go and go for 2023.”
Which is code for “Lee will be captain in 2023”.
Europe’s next Ryder Cup captains: 2025
Here are the ages of Europe’s captains this century: 49 (Sam Torrance), 47 (Bernhard Langer), 48 (Ian Woosnam), 51 (Nick Faldo), 47 (Colin Montgomerie), 46 (Jose Maria Olazabal), 47 (Paul McGinley), 48 (Darren Clarke), and 47 (Thomas Bjorn).
You don’t have to be a genius to spot a bit of a trend here. Hit 45 and, if you’re not going to make the team, then you’re in with a shout. Interestingly of the last nine European captains, only five are major winners. The United States have never chosen a major-less skipper. Needless to say plenty have just the PGA on their CV, but still.
Now we’re getting into a bit of a pickle. You can probably assume that one of Bjorn and Harringtons’s right-hand men, Robert Karlsson, who will be 56 in 2025, will miss out. Paul Lawrie, who wasn’t part of the 2018 set-up, describes himself as a “back of the room type guy” so we can now strike a line through him as well.
Now we’re into the realms of Ian Poulter, who will be 49, the same with Henrik Stenson, while Paul Casey is a year younger and Luke Donald two.
It’s away at Bethpage State Park in New York State and, in my head, that only points to one person – the proverbial Postman, Ian James Poulter.
Europe’s next Ryder Cup captains: 2027
Adare Manor in Ireland has this one so we can make things easy for ourselves and tick off another of Bjorn and Harrington’s vices in Graeme McDowell.
He’ll be 48 by then and, while he might have only played on four teams, which seems incredible, he’ll tick every box – charismatic, gutsy, astute, great speaker.
And Irish, of course.
Europe’s next Ryder Cup captains: 2029
And back to the ultimate templated US layout, Hazeltine. Now things really are getting awkward given that Casey and Donald will have brought up their half century and now we’ve also got Sergio Garcia and Justin Rose at 49.
Let’s eliminate Casey from our enquiries on grounds of, well, everything. Stenson, at 52, might now have gone by the wayside which, given his hugely likeable character, seems as criminal as it is irritating.
So we might have a toss up between Donald, Garcia and Rose. Let’s keep Sergio back for 2031 and a home match, hopefully somewhere on the continent, and look to Rose to lead us into battle.
And don’t for a moment think that I haven’t worked out that Rory will be 48 when Congressional and the 2037 matches roll around. Perfect.
Europe’s next Ryder Cup captains: 2031
So with Rory pencilled in for 2037 and Sergio still on the sidelines it seems like the simplest choice of the lot. Happy 50th birthday Sergio, here are the Ryder Cup reins.
With the venue to be confirmed, maybe we’ll even make it the perfect week and take it back to his homeland for just the second time.
The only possible weird thing about this is that he hasn’t played in the competition since France and all the talk of him being the record scorer for Europe will have run a little flat now that three players have overtaken him.
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