Henrik Stenson has been removed as Europe’s Ryder Cup captain with immediate effect “in light of decisions made in relation to his personal circumstances”.
The 46-year-old Swede is understood to be on the verge of signing up for the Saudi-backed breakaway LIV Golf Series and, after discussions with Ryder Cup Europe officials, the decision was made to effectively sack him as captain.
“Ryder Cup Europe today confirms that Henrik Stenson’s tenure as captain of Team Europe for the 2023 Ryder Cup at Marco Simone Golf and Country Club in Rome, Italy from September 25 to October 1, 2023, has been brought to an end with immediate effect,” a Ryder Cup Europe statement read.
A statement from Ryder Cup Europe.
— Ryder Cup Europe (@RyderCupEurope) July 20, 2022
“In light of decisions made by Henrik in relation to his personal circumstances, it has become clear that he will not be able to fulfil certain contractual obligations to Ryder Cup Europe that he had committed to prior to his announcement as captain on Tuesday March 15, 2022, and it is therefore not possible for him to continue in the role of captain.
“Confirmation of the new 2023 European Ryder Cup captain will be made in due course. Ryder Cup Europe will be making no further comment on any aspect of the process until that time.”
Stenson’s appointment in March had appeared to end speculation about his involvement in the Saudi-backed breakaway as he insisted he was fully committed to the role.
But in a massive blow to the DP World Tour, of which players must be a member to compete in the Ryder Cup or captain the European side, the former Open champion signalled his intention to join LIV Golf in a move which extends the deepening rift in the men’s professional game.
Speaking after his appointment as captain, Stenson said: “There has been a lot of speculation back and forth.
“Yes, the captain signs a contract. He is the only one who does that. Players and vice-captains don’t, but the captain has an agreement and those agreements are between Ryder Cup Europe and the captain.
“I am fully committed to the captaincy, Ryder Cup Europe and the job at hand, so we are going to keep busy with that and I’m going to do everything in my power to deliver a winning team in Rome.”
After missing the cut in the Open, Stenson admitted his upcoming schedule was “undecided”.
While a decision on his replacement has not yet been made, the European team have a number of options, with former captain Thomas Bjorn, who led them to victory at Le Golf National in Paris in 2018, already on the team after Stenson selected him as his first vice-captain.
Promoting him back to the top job would seem the most straightforward option, with the event only 14 months away.
Italian Edoardo Molinari, who, alongside his brother Francesco, was part of the victorious 2010 at Celtic Manor in Wales, is also a vice-captain, but it would seem too big a step at this stage for him to take over.
Luke Donald, who was pipped to the appointment by Stenson, is another option who could be parachuted in as captain.
Former Open champion Paul Lawrie was quick to point out on social media that he had also been in the running for the captaincy first time around and is keen to be considered for the vacancy.
My name never been out of the hat. https://t.co/0gBcFDF3h1
— Paul Lawrie (@PaulLawriegolf) July 20, 2022
“Also in the frame was a Scotsman,” he tweeted in reply to a story about Stenson’s departure.
Urged by one fan to “chuck your name back in the hat” Lawrie responded: “My name never been out of the hat.”