Luke Donald on Ryder Cup picks, Jon Rahm and ‘being underdogs’ in Rome

"I think that underdog mentality is something that we've used in many Ryder Cups and to our advantage," says Luke Donald.

Luke Donald on Ryder Cup picks, Jon Rahm, and ‘being underdogs’ in Rome
Luke Donald on Ryder Cup picks, Jon Rahm, and ‘being underdogs’ in Rome

Luke Donald is in full preparation mode now as we close in on six weeks from first tee shots being hit at the 44th Ryder Cup matches in Rome next month.

Though his top three players who automatically qualified this week: Jon Rahm, Rory McIlroy, and Viktor Hovland are ranked in the world’s top five, Donald is expecting when each team ultimately fills out by early September that Europe’s average ranking will once again be below that of the US and thus his team will be underdogs.

"We will be underdogs," Donald said on today’s Beyond the Clubhouse Podcast.

"We don’t mind that. That’s fine for us. We still believe we can win, but I think that underdog mentality is something that we’ve used in many Ryder Cups and to our advantage."

So as underdogs then, even with three more players to qualify by September 3 and six picks made for the first time in Ryder Cup Europe history on September 4, what kind of feeling does he want to create for his troops in the team room at Marco Simone?

"We’re still carrying that hurt from two years ago and it’s about giving them a clear plan about how we can succeed and why we can succeed," Donald said.

"I also want to put them in the right frame of mind and make them believe that once they step on that first tee on Friday that they have a great opportunity to win."

Among the many factors Donald’s using to assess his six picks like recent form, the way in which personalities and games mesh with the six automatic qualifiers will be crucial.

"We’re looking at how can we pair best with the six which are already qualified automatically,” Donald said.

"I think there are lots of various factors. I’m very detail-oriented and I like to think things through.

"If someone asks me a question I’m not going to just blurt an answer back to you straightaway.

"I like a chance to consume everything and get all of the information that I have and then make the best choice.

"With the six picks, there are a variety of things that I’m looking at-that’s one of the reasons why we did have six-we didn’t want to get into a situation where the nine or ten automatic qualifiers may have played really well six months ago but their form really dipped off since.”

And with the likes of Tommy Fleetwood and Tyrrell Hatton playing well of late, one might figure that they could be strong examples of what Donald is thinking about here.

Luke Donald on Ryder Cup picks, Jon Rahm and ‘being underdogs’ in Rome

Also, having such a strong core that includes Rahm already on the team only figures to help this ‘underdog’ squad get to where they want to be with a successful home win.

Donald likes what he anticipates he will get from the Spaniard in his team room.

"I think the Ryder Cup for him is super important, to follow in the legacy of some of his heroes," said Donald. 

"Jose Maria [Olazabal], obviously Seve [Ballesteros], and even Sergio [Garcia].

"Those guys have paved their way through and made a big legacy in their history that’s really tied to the Ryder Cup.

"He understands that. He wants to do it individually but he wants to through the Ryder Cup as well. So I think you’ll see a lot of passion.

"You’ll see him very focused during the week and that will help some of the rookies and some of the guys that maybe who’ve only been there once will see that, will see that passion and he will be a big motivator for the other players because of that."


How do you think Europe will get on at the 2023 Ryder Cup next month? Which six players will receive picks in the team? Share your thoughts and comments over on the GolfMagic social media channels. 

This article was written by Garrett Johnston, host of Beyond The Clubhouse

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