‘Underdogs’ Europe proved doubters wrong, says triumphant Donald

Luke Donald said Sunday his Europe team proved their doubters wrong after reclaiming the trophy from the United States, hailing his 12 players as “superstars” following a convincing victory in Rome.

Europe prevailed 16.5-11.5 in Italy to gain revenge for a record 19-9 thumping at the hands of the Americans at Whistling Straits in 2021.

Asked how he was feeling after a dominant victory, Donald joked with reporters: “Yeah, it’s was all right.”

“I’m just so happy for these 12 guys, they gave everything this week. They were a pleasure to be around,” added Donald.

“They made my life very easy and they played like superstars. Not many people gave us a chance, I don’t think, especially two years ago. Yeah, well, we proved them wrong.”

Europe’s winning margin of five points was the same advantage they held overnight after an epic Saturday fourballs session in which the USA won three of four matches, with Patrick Cantlay and Wyndham Clark beating Rory McIlroy and Matthew Fitzpatrick on the 18th.

The Americans had their tails up at that point despite needing a record-breaking comeback on Sunday to win the Ryder Cup in Europe for the first time since 1993 but Donald laughed off the idea that that session, and McIlroy’s spat with Cantlay’s caddie, left them downhearted.

“They didn’t need galvanising. They were 10.5 points to 5.5 up. We were in a great place. We were in a perfect place. We knew it was in our hands,” said Donald.

“We stuck with the same plan we planned the whole week: Get off to fast starts. Play as a team. Use the crowd. Use their energy.”

Donald remained tight-lipped on whether he would stay on as captain for the next Ryder Cup, despite McIlroy telling reporters in the press conference room that “everyone sitting here would be very happy to have him again”.

McIlroy had led chants of “two more years, two more years” during the trophy presentation at the first tee as fans loudly applauded Donald and his men.

The 45-year-old stepped in for Henrik Stenson in August last year after the Swede was sacked for joining the Saudi Arabia-backed rebel LIV Golf tour.

“Listen guys, I want to enjoy this moment right now with these guys. I haven’t been asked yet,” said Donald.

There is no doubt that Donald has created a bond with his group of players who were in understandably high spirits post-event, beers in hand and cracking jokes.

Justin Rose spoke about a unifying culture that runs through the European team which stretches back to generations gone, and Donald said that his players were playing for something bigger than themselves or their teammates.

“I think some of the things that we talked about as a group was it’s really, really important to not just play for each other but play for those that mean the most to you. I think that’s super powerful,” he said.

“I think that’s why we always play this game. It’s not just for ourselves. That’s what makes the Ryder Cup so special is we play it for the people that mean so much to us.” (AFP)

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