By then, Stenson could well be banned from his home circuit, which he has raced on for the past 22 years. There is a hearing in the UK in three weeks which will decide in principle whether Wentworth chief executive Keith Pelley has the right to sanction the LIV brigade, including Lee Westwood and Ian Poulter, the English duo also in this week’s field sit.
Until then, they remain eligible to compete and, indeed, to earn Ryder Cup points, a fact that has put Donald in an unenviable state of “limbo” as he considers his staff.
“It will definitely help me get clarity,” said Donald. “Hopefully we will have more of that in a few weeks. But I can’t control it, you know, and I’ll deal with it no matter what. My job is to get 12 guys in that team room, all on the same page, willing to win the Ryder Cup.
It’s a difficult situation on a personal level for Donald, the former world number 1, as he played in Ryder Cups alongside both Poulter and Westwood. Meanwhile, Donald is close to Rory McIlroy and Sergio Garcia, who have feuded in the LIV controversy.
Donald is a neighbor of McIlroy’s and the pair have been playing practice rounds last week at the Bears Club, the course near their Florida homes, and are busy planning the clash with the Americans. Donald has managed to keep his long-standing friendship with Garcia intact.
“I’ve spoken to Sergio a few times since I’ve been captain,” he said. “I mean, he’s cool with me. He understands my role and that I don’t have much influence over a lot of these things that are going on right now, so. But yeah, we’ve had some conversations, which I’ll keep private.
Garcia has opted not to play this week or next week’s Dubai Desert Classic where McIlroy will make his first start of the 2023. Donald will be looking for some good performances for some of the youngsters who shone in the Hero Cup – the Ryder Cup dress rehearsal – which ended on Sunday with Continental Europe beating Great Britain and Ireland 141/2-101/2.
“It was a bit of a trial run for me and it’s been a great week, with so many of the guys playing well,” said Donald, naming a few to be commended, including Scotland’s Bob MacIntyre. “The material is really getting going now and I’m excited to see them take off from here, starting with these two weeks.”