Luke Donald early Ryder Cup homework at Bethpage Black ought to scare Team USA

Preparations for the 2025 Ryder Cup are already underway, and the Americans still do not have a captain.

Rumors around Tiger Woods leading Team USA at Bethpage Black, where he won the 2002 U.S. Open, have picked up steam recently, but the PGA of America has yet to make an official announcement.

Perhaps one comes after next week’s PGA Championship at Valhalla, in which Woods will compete.

On the flip side, Luke Donald, who led Europe to glory at Marco Simone in 2023, will return as captain in 2025.

The Englishman received overwhelming praise from the Europeans for his leadership and team-building skills. He also executed brilliant strategy, pushing the right buttons with his pairings while setting up the golf course to better suit his side. Hence, the DP World Tour selected Donald to lead the team again.

He is not taking his job lightly once more, even though the competition does not begin at Bethpage Black for another 16 months.

As such, Donald visited the Long Island course on Monday and shared the news on his Instagram.

Famously closed to the public on Mondays for course maintenance, Donald got an exclusive look at the Black Course with no one else present.

The sign that greets golfers on the first tee does not lie. The layout is challenging, with each hole featuring complex bunkers and doglegs that create difficult angles. Thick, gnarly, and healthy rough lines each fairway, punishing any tee shot that does not find the short grass. The greens are relatively benign but true, but missing approaches in the wrong places will lead to bogies or worse.

Luckily for Donald, he has competed in major championships on the Black Course before. He tied for 18th in his first U.S. Open appearance there in 2002 but missed the cut at Bethpage in 2009.

Bethpage Black, Ryder Cup

The 6th hole at Bethpage Black.
Photo by Gary Kellner/Getty Images

He last competed on the Black Course in 2016, when he tied for 53rd at The Barclays—the first round of the FedEx Cup Playoffs at the time. After shooting a 2-under 69 on day one, the Englishman carded rounds of 71, 72, and 75 to finish at 4-over for the championship.

And yet, the Americans still do not have a leader, while Donald and the Europeans have gotten a head start in the preparation.

That should sound the alarm for Team USA to get moving on their processes because their record against the Europeans over the last three decades is poor at best. Sure, the Americans have triumphed in the previous two Ryder Cups on home soil, but the last thing Team USA would want to experience again is a repeat of the Miracle at Medinah in 2012. The Europeans stormed back from a 10-to-6 deficit going into Sunday singles and stole the cup on the final holes.

That marks the last time a team won a Ryder Cup on the road.

Alas, Donald and the Europeans already have a head start on achieving just that in 2025.

Jack Milko is a golf staff writer for SB Nation’s Playing Through. Be sure to check out @_PlayingThrough for more golf coverage. You can follow him on Twitter @jack_milko as well.

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