Ryder Cup glory 'inspired' Luke Donald to return to top of golf, says former world No1

Jack Rosser
Looking ahead | Luke Donald is eyeing up a return to the top of golf following his injury struggles: Getty Images

Former world No1 Luke Donald has said Europe’s Ryder Cup victory inspired him to get back to the top after making his return to golf.

Donald, who was inside the ropes as one of Thomas Bjorn’s vice-captains in Paris, had not played a competitive round since April, but made his return in Scotland at the Alfred Dunhill Links following Ryder Cup, before playing the British Masters at Walton Heath last week, missing the cut in both.

The 40-year-old has played in four Ryder Cups, victorious in each, but has not made a playing appearance since Medinah in 2012, where he won the first point of the Sunday singles as Europe overturned an overnight deficit of 10-6. With Padraig Harrington and Lee Westwood set to take the captaincy for the next two biennial clashes, Donald could well have a shot at making the team in 2020.

After five months out with his back problem, the Englishman currently sits 450th in the world, but intends to use the lift from Paris as a springboard back to the top.

"It was inspiring," Donald told the BBC’s The Cut podcast. "It made me realise how much I did miss being away from the game over the last four or five months.

"It was a great team atmosphere - our team came together as one.

"Being in and amongst that, and having those feelings in your stomach and the kind of stuff that goes with competitive golf and being at the top of the game...hopefully I can get back there."

On his return to playing, Donald said: "I see two missed cuts and, as a competitor, you are kind of annoyed at that and feel like you want to do better.

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Miracle | Luke Donald hasn't played at the Ryder Cup since Europe's comeback at Medinah in 2012 (Getty Images)

"But these weeks weren't really about chasing victories, it was more about getting competitive rounds under my belt and seeing how my back dealt with some cold weather and some difficult conditions.

"In terms of that, it was pretty positive. A lot of my long game was pretty decent - what I've really struggled with is around the greens.

"I haven't hit that many balls and obviously had eight days off with the Ryder Cup without touching a club so it wasn't ideal preparation."