Is Michael Jordan EUROPE’S secret 2023 Ryder Cup weapon? He’s friends and Florida neighbors with Luke Donald – their families vacation together, they go on fishing trips and the American even helped him reach World No 1
- Luke Donald claims Michael Jordan thinks Europe will win this week’s Ryder Cup
- The two have been friends since the 90s and live near each other in Florida
- DailyMail.com provides all the latest international sports news
Luke Donald and Michael Jordan might seem an unlikely friendship but it might just be the partnership that helps Europe’s Ryder Cup captain mastermind victory this weekend.
Donald and Jordan are friends and neighbors in the same secluded area of Jupiter, Florida – there is one house between the golfer and Jordan. They’ve vacationed together. Yvette, Jordan’s wife, is friends with Diana, Donald’s other half.
They first met on the golf course in the late 90s. Jordan was still playing but in the twilight of his career while Donald was just starting out on a road that takes him to Rome for this weekend’s competition.
It was a case, Donald said, of opposites attract.
‘I didn’t think about how much of a superstar he was. I think he liked my quietness and my quiet cockiness,; Donald told The Times in 2020. ‘We’ve played a lot of golf together, have gone on many vacations together, Diane and I have been round to dinner many times, Michael and Yvette have been here a number of times and our wives have become close friends.
Luke Donald and Michael Jordan’s friendship stretches back years, starting in the 90s
Donald has spoken glowingly of Jordan’s influence upon him over the years of their friendship
Donald also goes fishing with Jordan – he once thought the NBA icon liked it more than golf
‘I have enjoyed Michael’s company, he’s very smart and good to talk to about anything.’
And anything, for such an avid fan like Jordan, means golf. Donald revealed how the six-time NBA champion gave him advice to become the No 1 golfer in the world in 2011.
‘I was trying desperately and feeling a bit overwhelmed by it,’ Donald said. ‘He told me about a year where he felt for [Chicago] Bulls to win the NBA he would have to average 32 points per game, which seems pretty difficult. He said to me, ‘I didn’t think 32 points per game, I thought eight points per quarter. That was an achievable goal. So Luke, you’ve got to break down the challenge into achievable goals.’ I did that and it worked.’
That now perhaps offers insight into how Donald will approach the tournament in Rome once it is underway. But in the build-up, Europe’s leader has been a confident figure and even sprang a surprise in the build-up by starting with the foursomes.
‘We feel like as a team, statistically, we are stronger in foursomes within our team than we would be in four-balls. Why not get off to a fast start?’ Donald, 45, said this week.
But fighting talk hasn’t always come so easily to the Englishman. It’s something that a decade ago, Donald turned to Jordan for guidance after a difficult start to the 2013 season.
‘He’s good for the mind,’ Donald said of Jordan, via The Telegraph. ‘It’s been good to pick Michael’s brains and find out what he was thinking about when he was playing basketball. He’s always trying to play mind games, he doesn’t like to lose.’
Donald and Jordan share a love of golf but they also enjoy fishing together in spare time.
Jordan is a huge golf fan and it appears to have formed the basis of his friendship with Donald
Donald pictured sharing a joke with Jordan at the Ryder Cup in Medinah in 2012
Donald and Keegan Bradley pictured on a round with Jordan and Tom Brady (left)
Donald once shared a birthday message to Jordan on Instagram, showing the two out on a boat at sea and captioned the image: ‘Happy Birthday to the G.O.A.T.
‘The most competitive person I know in everything he does, he always finds a way to win. He’s also one of the kindest and most sincere people I’ve been around.
‘He’s an inspiration to millions, including myself and I’m fortunate to hang with this legend. Happy Birthday MJ.’
Speaking on the-then European Tour’s ‘Life on Tour’ podcast in 2018, Donald said fishing was starting to replace golf as Jordan’s main hobby.
‘I think he’s getting a little bit bored of golf! So we go fishing a lot,’ he said. ‘I’d give him 10 shots though when he play. He knows how to play, he knows how to score. Very good short game, he can get up and down from nowhere.’
Jordan, for his part, is notoriously private but the fact in itself that he happily poses for pictures with Donald when they are out and about together demonstrates how comfortable they are in each other’s company.
Jordan, pictured with Donald’s wife Diane, lives next-door-but-one to the golfer in Florida
Donald and Jordan enjoy a moment together at the 2018 Ryder Cup, which was held in France
Donald will be using every ounce of inspiration from Jordan to win the Ryder Cup for Europe
The 60-year-old recently sold his majority stake in NBA team Charlotte Hornets for $3billion – which gives him plenty of time to get out on the golf course.
Jordan recently vacationed in Italy with his wife Yvette but won’t be there this weekend to watch the action as it unfolds. He has been seen at numerous other Ryder Cups across the years.
Jordan has his own golf course – Grove XXIII – with a strict membership policy. In 2020, there were only 75 members, and Donald was one of them.
‘For Michael, this was a personal thing rather than a commercial thing. He told me if he broke even on it, that would be great,’ Donald said. It’s different to most Florida courses, not many trees with a linksy, prairie feel to it. Amazing practice facilities and a very relaxed vibe.
‘Michael said he wanted a golf club with not many rules. There aren’t any as far I can see. And it’s not like you’re going to be held up by the four-ball ahead of you.’
Donald said this week that Jordan predicted he would win the Ryder Cup with Europe. If Jordan’s prediction is right, perhaps Donald will bring the trophy to show his friend – and a select few members – on his victory lap.
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