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 teams 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 now handing the reins over to someone new after defeat at Whistling Straits, let’s turn our attentions to the Ryder Cup captains guessing games in the next decade…

Europe’s next Ryder Cup captains: 2023 

Well, this is awkward.

We spoke to Lee Westwood in 2018 and he said he would probably wait until 2023 at Marco Simone Golf & Country Club. But that all changed in 2021 when, shortly after Europe’s record drubbing at Whistling Straits, Westwood threw the process into disarray by deciding he wasn’t quite ready to semi-retire on the Ryder Cup front.

Those with connections at HQ have narrowed it down to one of Luke Donald, Robert Karlsson, and Henrik Stenson – though the latter’s additional Saudi-backed baggage probably rules him out. There is also talk of Thomas Bjorn returning for a second stint after a resoundingly successful first go in Paris.

But last year’s skipper, Padraig Harrington – who is on a selection committee that also includes Bjorn, Darren Clarke, Keith Pelley and David Howell to name his successor – has thrown his weight behind one candidate in particular.

“All I can say is that Luke would be great,” Harrington told the Daily Mail. “Behind the scenes, he does a terrific job. His management style … he knows. He’s got the experience, and I’d thoroughly recommend him.”

Graeme McDowell agrees with his fellow Irishman. “Luke brings a lot of experience and he commands a lot of respect,” he explained. “He’s thoughtful and intelligent, and I think he’d be a fantastic choice.”

Paul Casey added that Donald would be a “fabulous” captain.

When shown these comments by the Golf Channel while playing in the American Express last week, Donald said he was “very humbled”.

He added: “I would love to have the opportunity to be captain. I feel like I’ve learned a lot from captains I’ve served under, and vice-captains I’ve served alongside, that would help me. I’m a detail-oriented guy.”

So who’s taking the Team Europe reins after 2023? Let’s speculate together…

Europe’s next Ryder Cup captains: 2025 

Europe's next Ryder Cup captains

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), 47 (Thomas Bjorn), and 50 (Padraig Harrington).

You don’t have to be a genius to spot a bit of a trend here. Hit your mid forties and, if you’re not going to make the team, then you’re in with a shout. Interestingly of that 10, only six are major winners. Though until Steve Stricker the United States had never before chosen a major-less skipper, and it didn’t seem to do him any harm.

Now we’re getting into a bit of a pickle. You can probably assume that one of Bjorn and Harrington’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.

It’s away at Bethpage and those infamous New York fans and, for us, that only points to one person – the proverbial Postman.

Europe’s next Ryder Cup captains: 2027 

Graeme McDowell

Adare Manor, in Ireland, has this one so we can make things easy for ourselves and tick off another of Thomas Bjorn and Padraig 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

Ryder Cup captains

And back to the ultimate templated US layout, Hazeltine. Now things really are getting awkward given that Westwood hasn’t had a turn yet and is now 56, Casey will have brought up his 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, while Rose’s 2021 snub may just come back to haunt him on the captaincy front.

So we might have a toss up between Westwood and Garcia. Let’s keep Sergio back for 2031 and a home match, hopefully somewhere on the continent, and look to Westwood to lead us into battle.

And don’t for a moment think that we 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 

golf prank

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 Whistling Straits 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.

Your say

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

This article originally appeared on NationalClubGolfer.com in March 2020 and has been updated by the editor.

Subscribe to NCG