Luke Donald Admits Europe Will Be Ryder Cup Underdogs In Rome

European captain Luke Donald tells a new Sky Sports documentary about his Ryder Cup hopes for later this year

Luke Donald speaks to the media during the Ryder Cup 2023 Year to Go Media Event
(Image credit: Getty Images)

European Ryder Cup captain Luke Donald admits his side will be underdogs against Team USA in Rome, but is determined to make amends for the humbling the team suffered last time out.

Donald has had a supremely successful Ryder Cup career, winning all four of the tournaments he played in and one as a Thomas Bjorn’s vice-captain in Paris.

However, the 45-year-old was also part of Padraig Harrington’s team as a vice-captain when America earned a dominant 19-9 victory at Whistling Straits, and is using that as a motivating factor.

The USA have gone 30 years without winning on European soil – with Tom Watson’s success at The Belfry their last victory – but as the likely teams start to shape up, Donald says in a new Sky Sports documentary that Europe will be underdogs.

Luke Donald and Zach Johnson will be the captains when Europe take on the USA in the 2023 Ryder Cup

(Image credit: Getty Images)

"The US are going to be very strong and I still think we will be underdogs," Donald says in the new Sky Sports Golf documentary 'Cool Hand Captain', available on Sky Sports Golf and Sky Sports On Demand from Saturday. 

"Just look at how strong they are in terms of world ranking, plus they're high on confidence. They will be coming in very excited but that doesn't mean we haven't been underdogs before and victorious, so we'll be prepared and ready.

"It [winning] would mean everything and I am obviously doing this job to win. I want to enjoy the journey, but the goal is to win and it will be disappointing if we don't."

Donald, who also shares some Ryder Cup stories as well as personal highlights in the Sky Sports production, says taking a thrashing at Whistling Straits is all the motivation he needs going into this year’s tournament at Marco Simone GC this September.

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"It hurt a lot," Donald added. "I've been part of six Ryder Cups and that was the only one I've ever experienced being on the losing side.

"We were beaten pretty heavily and it wasn't fun at all, but from losing you learn in a way as you have to experience that to know you don't want to experience it again.

"You feel a little bit like you don't have control as a vice-captain, watching the guys, but you feel bad for them and you don't want that to happen again. Our guys have a lot of pride and there's nothing wrong in losing sometimes, as long as you learn from it."

The documentary will air on Saturday February 11 at 3.30pm on Sky Sports Golf, with the programme repeated on February 12 at 2pm, February 13 at 5.30pm and February 19 at 1.30pm and also available via Sky Sports On Demand.

Paul Higham

Paul Higham is a sports journalist with over 20 years of experience in covering most major sporting events for both Sky Sports and BBC Sport. He is currently freelance and covers the golf majors on the BBC Sport website.  Highlights over the years include covering that epic Monday finish in the Ryder Cup at Celtic Manor and watching Rory McIlroy produce one of the most dominant Major wins at the 2011 US Open at Congressional. He also writes betting previews and still feels strangely proud of backing Danny Willett when he won the Masters in 2016 - Willett also praised his putting stroke during a media event before the Open at Hoylake. Favourite interviews he's conducted have been with McIlroy, Paul McGinley, Thomas Bjorn, Rickie Fowler and the enigma that is Victor Dubuisson. A big fan of watching any golf from any tour, sadly he spends more time writing about golf than playing these days with two young children, and as a big fair weather golfer claims playing in shorts is worth at least five shots. Being from Liverpool he loves the likes of Hoylake, Birkdale and the stretch of tracks along England's Golf Coast, but would say his favourite courses played are Kingsbarns and Portrush.