European Ryder Cup captain Luke Donald could not be happier.
There has been three months of qualifying so far for the 2023 European Ryder Cup team and those who will be expected to be the cornerstones of Donald’s Rome side are winners already.
They include six players who also were on the 2021 losing European Team side that competed at Whistling Straits.
Shane Lowry was the first to win in the 12-month 2022/23 qualifying period capturing the opening event with victory over Rory McIlroy in the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth.
A month later, Jon Rahm captured a third Spanish Open in four years while he then delivered Donald another assurance of his stature, winning the closing event of the DP World Tour season.
McIlroy is the reigning PGA Tour No. 1, DP World Tour No. 1 and World No. 1, and is a certainty to compete in a seventh straight Ryder Cup, and seven weeks into qualifying he rubber-stamped his Rome credentials in successfully defending the CJ Cup.
In the second week of November Tommy Fleetwood ended a three-year victory drought in winning a second Nedbank Challenge at Sun City in South Africa.
And now we’ve witnessed a sixth European from the 2021 Ryder Cup deliver Donald another Rome selection boost with Viktor Hovland draining the best bogey winning putt he’s ever hit to successfully defend the Tiger Woods hosted Hero World Challenge in the Bahamas.
The 25-year-old Hovland joined Woods, and the tournament host, as the only players to successfully defend the famed Tiger trophy.
That is now six Europeans from the badly beaten 2021 team who are winners just three months into Rome qualifying.
And Hovland reckons it’s good news for Europe.
“Of course, it’s still a long time until the Ryder Cup in Rome, but if the whole team keeps playing well and getting a lot of momentum going into the week, I think that’s great,” he said.
“The American players last year certainly had an amazing year and they kind of knew going into the tournament that they were the favourites. So, I think we have a chance to kind of push it the other direction.
“The more Europeans that win, I think we can maybe change that narrative a little bit to next year. Yeah, but it’s just, it’s cool to see fellow Europeans do well.”