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Luke Donald may be forced to bench Rory McIlroy and Jon Rahm at Ryder Cup

European Ryder Cup captain Luke Donald has hinted he may very well be forced to bench some of his biggest PGA Tour stars such as Rory McIlroy, Jon Rahm and Viktor Hovland to ensure “freshness” heading into the Sunday Singles next weekend.

Donald, 45, is fearful members of his team could be burnt out by the Sunday should they play in all four sessions of the foursomes and fourballs on Friday and Saturday.

Temperatures are expected to be soaring at Marco Simone in Rome next week, and the 7,300-yard golf course is considered by many as the hilliest in Ryder Cup history.

Former World No.1 Donald admits some of his players who have historically been used to competing in all five sessions may end up playing in just four of them if he feels it necessary to get the best out of them.

McIlroy, who will be playing in his seventh straight side at Marco Simone next week, has played in all five sessions of a Ryder Cup on four occasions (2012, 2014, 2016, 2018).

The European Ryder Cup talisman played in four sessions on his debut at Celtic Manor in 2010, and he was dropped for the Saturday foursomes by captain Padraig Harrington last time out at Whistling Straits in 2021.

Other players in this current European Ryder Cup team to have played in all five sessions previously include Hovland and Rahm (2021), Tommy Fleetwood (2018) and Justin Rose (2012, 2014).

Team Europe has historically tended to field more players in all five sessions of a Ryder Cup than Team USA.

Over the past five Ryder Cup matches dating back to 2012, the European Ryder Cup team has relied on a golfer to compete in all five sessions of a Ryder Cup on 14 occasions, as opposed to eight times on the United States.

Things could be different in Italy though.

Donald said:

“It is something we’ve talked about and discussed with a few players who you’d think would play five and we’ve had conversations with them about what they might be expecting for the week.

“Adrenaline is a big thing in the Ryder Cup so if you asked them to play five they would want to play five. But you’ve got to think about Sunday and the singles because that is 12 points out of the 28. You want some freshness, it is going to be a tiring golf course, could be quite warm.

“Those are things that we’ve constantly thought about over the past few months and we’ll have to decide and make some of those decisions based on play on Friday and Saturday. It is a possibility that some guys who are used to playing five might not play five.

“They understand the rationale behind it.”

United States Ryder Cup vice-captain Stewart Cink revealed a similar chain of thought earlier this month, albeit claiming players “would not be disappointed” to be benched given the heat and the hills.

All 12 players in the 2023 European Ryder Cup team made the cut at last week’s BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth.

Seven of those 12 players also finished inside the top 10, much to the delight of Donald.

Donald added:

“Watching the leaderboard there were six in the top six at one point and another few nearby. I’m very happy with their form.”

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