McDowell’s future European captaincy concern now a genuine fear

Fatiha Betscher
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Graeme McDowell (Photo by Cliff Hawkins/Getty Images)

Henrik Stenson’s selection as 2023 European Ryder Cup captain clearly will not make it any easier for Graeme McDowell to captain Europe in 2027 at Adare Manor.

It was mid-2019 when Adare Manor was awarded the 2026 Ryder Cup and McDowell was immediately touted as the possible European Team captain on Irish home soil.

That view did not change when the worldwide pandemic saw the 2020 Ryder Cup pushed back to 2021, resulting in all future Ryder Cup’s returning to an odd-numbered year so that Adare Manor will now play host to the 100th anniversary of the staging of the Ryder Cup from 25th to 27th September 2027.

McDowell spoke exclusively to Irish Golfer Magazine while walking around the Red Sea shoreline during last month’s pro-am ahead of the Saudi International when he first raised concern he may now not get to captain Europe in 2027 at Adare Manor.

In the weeks following this revelation, McDowell even hinted he may miss out completely from being appointed a European captain as he stated at the Arnold Palmer Invitational.

“I think there are too many great guys stacking up. There are too many great players. There’s going to be seven or eight guys vying for the next five or six”, he said.

“Someone’s going to miss. When you’re talking about Westwood and Garcia and Justin Rose, you’re talking about top, top European players, of which I am one, but those guys have maybe slightly different credentials than me”.

McDowell is currently the second-youngest of six players who must be in line for future European captaincy roles post-Rome in 2023, as we note from the list hereunder;

Robert Karlsson – 52 (Turns 53 in September)

Westwood – 48 (Turns 49 in April)

Ian Poulter – 46 (Turns 47 next January)

Luke Donald – 44 (Turns 45 in December)

Sergio Garcia – 42 (Turns 43 in January)

Graeme McDowell – 42 (Turns 43 in July)

Justin Rose – 41 (Turns 42 in July)

Of course, we have only just been advised this week of the 2023 European Team captain but looking at the list of future ‘candidates’, and also their age, one could have a guess that the following may unfold:

2025 – European Ryder Cup captain – Lee Westwood (Will be aged 51)

2027 – Ian Poulter (Aged 49)

2029 – A choice now between Luke Donald (Then aged 51), Sergio Garcia (Aged 49) Graeme McDowell (Aged 50), or Justin Rose (Then aged 49).

Also let’s not forget Paul Casey, a veteran of five Ryder Cup sides, who turns 45 in July.

You can understand now why McDowell has been indicating of late, he may get overlooked entirely in being bestowed the honour of captaining a European Ryder Cup side.

Though the wildcard in this discussion is who among the above, if any, will join the breakaway Saudi-backed series of events, and what will be the repercussions, if any, from the DP World Tour going forward?

We now know that Donald, having been widely tipped to be handed the reins for Rome, is very much in favour to be a future captain despite being overlooked by this year’s voting panel.

And Donald, in speaking ahead of this week’s Valspar Championship, spoke of his disappointment;

“I thought I had a chance this time, but it wasn’t to be,” he said to Golfweek.  “I was disappointed personally that I didn’t get the nod, but that doesn’t mean I can’t do it down the road. I wish Henrik all the best and support him along the way.

“Hopefully, that’s not my chance gone. We have a lot of very worthy candidates, legends of the Ryder Cup, guys like Sergio.

“I also don’t know how this whole Saudi thing is going to play out and if anyone is going to get knocked out because of that. That’s a little bit of a question mark.”

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