Next Ryder Cup captain: Five contenders to replace sacked Henrik Stenson

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Next Ryder Cup captain: Five contenders to replace sacked Henrik Stenson
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Team Europe will need a new captain for next year’s Ryder Cup in Rome after Henrik Stenson was stripped of the role ahead of his move to the controversial LIV Golf series.

The 46-year-old signed up for the Saudi-backed breakaway officially on Wednesday and, after discussions with Ryder Cup Europe officials, the decision was made to effectively sack him as captain.

Stenson’s appointment in March had appeared to end speculation about his involvement in the series 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 has switched in a move which extends the deepening rift in the men’s professional game.

Here we look at some possible contenders to replace the Swede.

Thomas Bjorn

The Dane proved to be an outstanding captain in 2018 (PA)
The Dane proved to be an outstanding captain in 2018 (PA)

The experienced Dane could slip seamlessly into the role having done it as recently as 2018, when he inspired Europe to their brilliant victory in Paris. He had been due to serve the team again as a vice-captain and indeed was the first deputy to be appointed by Stenson for the 2023 event. Has reportedly taken quite a strong line against LIV rebels.

Luke Donald

The Englishman has a fine Ryder Cup record (PA)
The Englishman has a fine Ryder Cup record (PA)

The former world No 1 played in four Ryder Cups between 2004 and 2012 and did not finish on the losing side. He had been one of the initial favourites for the job before the European Tour opted for Stenson. He expressed his disappointment at the time but could now find himself in the position after all.

Paul Lawrie

Lawrie would bring a calm presence to the European team (PA)
Lawrie would bring a calm presence to the European team (PA)

Former Open champion Paul Lawrie was also a contender for the job which Stenson ultimately got. The Scot, a two-time Ryder Cup team member and one-time winner, remains interested in taking the role and in response to a question on Twitter about reapplying, he responded “My name has never been out of the hat”.

Robert Karlsson

Stenson’s fellow Swede has played in the event twice and been vice-captain (PA)
Stenson’s fellow Swede has played in the event twice and been vice-captain (PA)

Stenson’s compatriot was another of the leading contenders to succeed the 2021 skipper Padraig Harrington. He has twice experienced playing in the event in 2006 and 2008 and served as a vice-captain in the last two matches.

Edoardo Molinari

The Italian is a long shot to be chosen as captain (PA)
The Italian is a long shot to be chosen as captain (PA)

An outside bet but, as an Italian, one who would be a popular choice with the home fans. The brother of 2018 star player Francesco Molinari, the 41-year-old was a member of the victorious side at Celtic Manor in 2010. He had also been appointed as a vice-captain.

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