With the LIV defectors now seemingly out of the picture for the Team Europe hotseat, let's have some fun and speculate

We talk about the Ryder Cup far too much.

After all, it’s only three days out of every 730, only two teams of men from two continents can actually play, it’s 18 holes of match play, it’s ultimately an exhibition in corporate overalls, it’s always won by the home team, and it’s played at the wrong time of the year.

It’s also absolutely sensational, the greatest sporting occasion you could possibly imagine, and you can never tire of reminiscing, reflecting, remembering, and getting misty-eyed over Ryder Cups of years gone by.

We also spend far too many waking hours pondering and predicting, whether it be future venues, players, pairings, scores, and captains. And it’s the latter which we find ourselves discussing the most in recent months.

In the wake of Henrik Stenson being stripped of the captaincy following his controversial move to LIV Golf, and with his fellow defectors – including Ian Poulter, Lee Westwood, Sergio Garcia, Graeme McDowell and Paul Casey – seemingly also out of the picture, your guess is as good as ours when it comes to who will lead Europe in the next decade in what is generally considered a transitional period for a team still licking its wounds from a record walloping at Whistling Straits.

So let’s dive right in…

Europe’s next Ryder Cup captains: 2023

Luke Donald

Well, this was awkward, wasn’t it?

In the wake of Henrik Stenson’s bombshell, Luke Donald – who had previously missed out to the Swede having apparently got down to the last two – was named as the man who would lead a European team mourning the loss of some of its biggest stars.

But playing second fiddle to Stenson did not cross the Englishman as he embarks on this next stage of his career at Marco Simone Golf Club.

“I feel extremely privileged to have been given that responsibility and it is a responsibility I do not take lightly,” he said at the time. “Some of my best experiences in golf have been in the Ryder Cup and I would not swap those for anything. It is an event like no other and I cannot wait to create more special memories in Italy next year.” 

Europe’s next Ryder Cup captains: 2025 

Justin Rose Ladies Series

Well now it starts to get tricky. 2025, at Bethpage, in front of that raucous New York crowd, this was perfect for Ian Poulter, really.

But the Saudi money was more of a draw for the Postman (not a criticism so please don’t @ me) and now we’re back to square one.

So who’s in the running? Let’s start by breaking down the captains since the turn of the century. Sam Torrance was 49, Bernhard Langer 47, Ian Woosnam 48, Nick Faldo 51, Colin Montgomerie 47, Jose Maria Olazabal 46, Paul McGinley 47, Darren Clarke 48, Thomas Bjorn 47, and Padraig Harrington had just turned 50.

It doesn’t take a genius to spot a bit of a trend here. In your 40s and have a reasonable Ryder Cup record? You’re in with a shout.

Who does that leave? Justin Rose and newly-named Hero Cup captain Francesco Molinari are 42 and 40 respectively, so let’s put them in pole position.

2025 feels too soon for Molinari, so let’s plump for Rose who, if anything, will be the calming presence the European team needs in the pressure chamber that is playing a sporting event in New York.

Europe’s next Ryder Cup captains: 2027 

Francesco Molinari

Adare Manor, in Ireland, has this one so we could have made things easy for ourselves by putting Graeme McDowell in charge for 2027.

Alas, he is in Greg Norman’s pocket now (not a criticism so please don’t @ me) so we’ll have to look elsewhere.

Shane Lowry is Irish, according to Wikipedia, but you try and tell him he’s not making that team, so not him.

I don’t want to get too much into the age thing, but Francesco Molinari will be in his mid-40s and five years on from the Hero Cup job. Perfect.

Europe’s next Ryder Cup captains: 2029

We had originally pencilled Lee Westwood here but he’s now an employee of the Crown Prince (not a criticism so please don’t @ me) so back to the drawing board.

Oh go on then, let’s make it a Molinari double! Edoardo may not have the record of his brother in this competition – earning one point from three matches in his sole appearance at Celtic Manor – but he will assist Captain Donald in Italy, and undoubtedly future captains too.

If you follow Dodo on social media, you’ll already know the Italian is heavily into statistics, and he will prove to be a vital cog in several Ryder Cups going forward as part of a team that increasingly relies on making data-led decisions.

Does this mean he can make the step up to the main gig for Team Europe? Why not? You can’t argue against it any more than I can argue for it, so let’s get him in.

Europe’s next Ryder Cup captains: 2031 

Happy 50th birthday Sergio, here are the Ryder Cup reins. Oh, you’ve destroyed your reputation for a few more dollars (not a criticism so please don’t @ me) so you’re out.

With two venues in England – the yet-to-be-built Hulton Park project in Bolton and The London Club in Kent – as well as PGA Catalunya in Spain officially in the running, there’s a 66% chance the 2031 Ryder Cup returns to England.

Tommy Fleetwood, captaining the Ryder Cup just a few miles from where he grew up? Make it happen.

Do you agree with our list? Let us know in the comments below, or you can tweet us.

Alex Perry

Editor

Alex has been the editor of National Club Golfer since 2017. A Devonian who enjoys wittering on about his south west roots, Alex moved north to join NCG after more than a decade in London, the last five of which were with ESPN. Away from golf, Alex follows Torquay United and spends too much time playing his PlayStation or his guitar and not enough time practising his short game.

Handicap: 14

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