Ryder Cup 2023 captains – who are they and how did they choose their teams?

Ryder Cup 2023 captains – who are they and how did they choose their teams?
Team Europe Captain Luke Donald (right) alongside USA captain Zach Johnson with the Ryder Cup Trophy following the captains press conference at the Marco Simone Golf and Country Club, Rome, Italy, ahead of the 2023 Ryder Cup. Picture date: Monday September 25, 2023. - Photo by Icon Sport

Beginning on Friday, Sept. 29, the United States will compete against Europe in the 2023 Ryder Cup. Marco Simone Golf & Country Club in Guidonia Montecelio, Italy, will host the 44th edition.

There have been many influential team captains throughout the history of the competition. This year, Zach Johnson will lead the United States and Englishman Luke Donald is Europe’s captain.

We’ll explain how the captains selected their players and showcase the two teams’ vice captains and captains’ picks.

Ryder Cup 2023 captains

Team USA captain: Zach Johnson

Johnson has some big boots to fill after 2021 captain Steve Stricker led the United States to victory at Whistling Straits in Wisconsin. Johnson does have experience as a vice-captain in the last two Ryder Cups.

The Iowa City native played in five Ryder Cups (won in 2016) and is still active on the PGA Tour. He has two major wins, which include the 2007 Masters and the 2015 Open Championship.

Team Europe captain: Luke Donald

The 45-year-old has a rich Ryder Cup history, having won the event all four times he participated as a player. He’s also been a vice-captain in 2021 and 2018.

Donald never won a major but was the No. 1 ranked player in the Official World Golf Rankings for 56 weeks and has five victories on the PGA Tour. Henrik Stenson was originally team Europe’s captain, but after becoming ineligible, Donald took over the role.

Ryder Cup 2023 vice-captains

There are five vice-captains for each team.

USA’s vice-captains

All of the USA’s vice-captains have participated in a Ryder Cup.

Stewart Cink

The 2009 Open Champion is making his first appearance at the Ryder Cup in a leadership role. Cink participated in five Ryder Cups, winning in 2008 at Valhalla Golf Club.

Fred Couples

Couples has led team USA before in a Presidents Cup and played in five Ryder Cups. The former World No. 1 is one of the most famous golfers ever thanks to his smooth swing, 1992 Masters win and 15 PGA Tour triumphs.

Jim Furyk

Jim Furyk has loads of experience in international team events at both the Ryder Cup and Presidents Cup. The 2003 U.S. Open champion was Team USA’s captain at the 2018 Ryder Cup in France.

Davis Love III

The 59-year-old has captained America twice at the Ryder Cup, winning in 2016 and losing in 2012. The Charlotte, North Carolina native also led the USA to victory as its captain at last year’s Presidents Cup. Love III won 21 times on the PGA Tour, including a PGA Championship (1997).

Steve Stricker

Stricker won the last Ryder Cup as the USA’s captain and participated three times as a player. He’s won 12 times on the PGA Tour and is currently earning victories on the senior tour.

Europe’s vice-captains

Two of Europe’s vice-captains have led team Europe to victory as captains.

Thomas Bjorn

The “Great Dane” captained Team Europe to glory at the 2018 Ryder Cup in Paris and has been a vice-captain on four occasions. Bjorn won 15 times on the DP World Tour and finished T2 in three majors.

Nicolas Colsaerts

Colsaerts played in one Ryder Cup as a player, winning the “Miracle at Medinah” with Europe. He became the first-ever Belgian to play in the event.

Edoardo Molinari

Molinari played in one Ryder Cup and has three DP World Tour victories.

Francesco Molinari

The younger brother of Edoardo will bring plenty of experience to the team while coaching in his home country. Italy’s first major champion won all three times he appeared in Ryder Cups and went 5-0-0 in 2018.

Jose Maria Olazabal

Olazabal’s presence and leadership likely won’t be taken for granted. In 2012, he guided Europe to a tight Ryder Cup win against the United States in the Miracle at Medinah. Europe began the final day trailing 10-6 and won 14.5-13.5.

The Spaniard owned an 18-8-5 record as a player and has five Ryder Cup titles (four as a player and one as captain). Olazabal also owns two Green Jackets thanks to two Masters victories. He won six times on the PGA Tour and 23 times on the DP World Tour (9th-most in history).

2012 Ryder Cup
Jose Maria Olazabal with the 2012 Ryder Cup trophy.

How did the captains select the teams?

Each team captain had six captain’s picks to choose golfers they deemed fit for the teams. The other six players were automatic qualifiers due to points.

Zach Johnson’s captain’s picks

  • Sam Burns
  • Rickie Fowler
  • Brooks Koepka
  • Collin Morikawa
  • Jordan Spieth
  • Justin Thomas

Luke Donald’s captain’s picks

  • Ludvig Åberg
  • Tommy Fleetwood
  • Nicolai Højgaard
  • Shane Lowry
  • Justin Rose
  • Sepp Straka

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