Luke Donald has named Italian Francesco Molinari as his fifth and final Vice Captain for the 2023 Ryder Cup which will be played at Marco Simone Golf & Country Club in Rome, from September 26 – October 1, 2023.
Molinari joins his brother Edoardo, Thomas Bjørn, Nicolas Colsaerts and José María Olazábal in Donald’s European backroom team for the biennial contest against the United States, which will be played in Italy for the first time.
The 40 year old became Italy’s first Major Champion when he won The Open at Carnoustie in 2018. Later that year he became the first European player to win a maximum five points from five matches as Europe reclaimed the Ryder Cup at Le Golf National, in Paris, forming an iconic partnership with Englishman Tommy Fleetwood which earned the duo the nickname ‘Moliwood’.
Molinari made his Ryder Cup debut alongside his elder brother Edoardo at The Celtic Manor Resort in Wales in 2010 and was also part of Team Europe for the Miracle at Medinah two years later, halving his singles match with Tiger Woods as Olazábal’s team claimed a famous 14½-13½ victory in Chicago.
In January of this year, Molinari led Continental Europe to victory as playing Captain in the inaugural edition of the Hero Cup in Abu Dhabi, a team match play event which Donald introduced to help Team Europe’s preparation for next month’s Ryder Cup. He has also played in three editions of the Seve Trophy and in total, he has won six times on the DP World Tour, including twice on home soil, claiming the Italian Open in both 2006 and 2016.
Molinari said: “I am very proud to be part of Luke’s team. I started the year hoping to be there as a player, but it is still a great honour to be there as a Vice Captain.
“I got a phone call from Luke asking if I was interested and obviously it was a clear answer from me. He is assembling a really good team of people. A lot of them are close to me in different ways. We’ve all shared the stage together already in some form and that helps when it comes to decision time and putting Luke and the players in the best conditions possible to perform at their best.
“The coolest moment I have had in the Ryder Cup was making my debut alongside Edoardo in Wales and experiencing for the first time what it meant to be part of the European Team. It is super special to be there with him again in Rome.
“It is a proud moment any time you get to put on the shirt with the European badge on it. It’s a Ryder Cup which is particularly close to my heart being played in Rome so I will do whatever I can to help Luke and the team and hopefully bring the trophy back to Europe.”
Captain Donald said: “I chose Francesco because he has a lot of experience in Ryder Cups and he is a Major winner. He has a tremendous individual career, but he is also Italian. I wanted him there no matter what, whether it was playing or as a Vice Captain. With his brother there too, I think it is going to be pretty special, having both Edoardo and Francesco on my team representing Team Europe but also representing Italy.
“Francesco is a hero in Italy. He has so much respect from the Italians for what he has done for the game of golf. Certainly that respect is also there from me too and I couldn’t be happier to round out my Vice Captains with him.”
Automatic qualification for Donald’s 12-man European Team will conclude on Sunday September 3. So far, Jon Rahm, Rory McIlroy and Viktor Hovland have confirmed their places, with a further three automatic spots available. Donald will then announce his six Captain’s picks at 2pm (BST) on Monday September 4.