Fatiha Betscher at St. Andrews
Victorious Rome vice-captain Thomas Bjorn says it’s the winning players who should decide if they want Luke Donald leading the European Ryder Cup side when the event returns to the United States and New York’s Bethpage State Park on Long Island in 2025.
Bjorn found it a nice distraction being congratulated at every turn as he worked on his game ahead of this week’s Alfred Dunhill Links Championship in St. Andrews.
Maybe not quite the same sense of euphoria as four years ago post leading Europe to victory in Versailles, but there was no shortage of hand-shaking and back-slapping for the Dane following his part in last week’s Rome triumph.
But while the USA captaincy knives were quick to be sharpened in the wake of the 16.5-11.5 Zach Johnson led defeat, it’s a different case for Donald with many calling for the Englishman to remain at the helm in two year’s time.
“The way I look at it,” Bjorn said, “the next European captain, you have to look at your players as we have a young group of guys and a lot of the guys who were in Rome last week are going to be around for a long time.
“You have to talk to these guys and take on board their views but it’s still all very emotional at the moment.
“Two years ago, it was emotional in a negative way while this time around the emotion is all positive, but whichever way, you have to make decisions when it comes down to choosing a next captain.
“So, it should be the players who have a big say, and it’s for them. This group of guys are so young and it’s for them to get together and decide who they would like to see be the next captain.
“They need go be listened to and then, obviously, we need to have a chat with Luke as we do need to have a debrief, so there is a lot of things that need to fall into place.”
It was March 2022, and six months post the Versailles victory celebrations when Swede Henrik Stenson was named Ryder Cup captain.
Four months later on July 20th Stenson was stripped of the captaincy after joining LIV Golf and then on August 1st, Donald was handed the role.
The five-man Ryder Cup selection committee comprised of the past three European captains Padraig Harrington, Bjorn and Donald, Tour CEO Keith Pelley and the chair of the Players’ Advisory Committee will meet in March next year to choose who will lead the team in 2025.
Bjorn said: “Sam (Torrance) was my favourite captain when I was playing Ryder Cup, and I saw first-hand how Paul (McGinley) changed the face of the European captaincy.
“(Bernhard) Langer was amazing in Detroit, I felt we did a good job in Paris, so I have seen a lot of great captains.
“In speaking of Luke’s captaincy, I don’t think I can point one finger to say ‘I would have done this better.’
“Luke, like myself, learned from past captains. He learned from his own experience and he created a wonderful team environment.
“From the beginning, Luke has been brilliant and great to work with. He had big, open ears and he listened to our views and then formed his ideas in what he wanted to create.
“He created the environment. He understood his players well and when you do all those things right, and in the whole build-up and you have plans, and you have 12 individuals that you put your time-and-effort into, you deserve to stand tall at the end of the week having won the Ryder Cup.
“Luke was totally amazing and there was no doubt on the Monday at Wentworth for the BMW PGA, and after our Rome inspection visit, that we felt we had a very special group of guys.
“It was a very young team and it’s scary to think that Rory is the third oldest player, and it’s just incredible standing here in being a part of a victorious side”.