The Europeans are in the market for a new Ryder Cup captain.
This comes after Ryder Cup Europe officials announced Wednesday that Henrik Stenson will not captain the home side next year in Italy, saying in a release that Stenson’s tenure as captain “has been brought to an end with immediate effect.”
“In light of decisions made by Henrik in relation to his personal circumstances, he has become clear that he will not be able to fulfill certain contractual obligations to Ryder Cup Europe that he had committed to prior to his announcement as captain … and it is therefore not possible for him to continue in the role of captain.”
The 46-year-old Stenson, who was unveiled as Europe’s 2023 captain in mid-March, revealed a few hours after Wednesday’s announcement that he had decided to join LIV Golf, beginning with next week’s event at Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, New Jersey. Stenson claimed that LIV had been supportive of his role as captain and that specific arrangements were made to ensure that he could fulfill both commitments had he been allowed to maintain his captaincy.
“While I disagree with this decision, for now it is a decision that I accept,” Stenson said. “I have huge respect and admiration for the Ryder Cup and those individuals behind it who I know are doing their utmost to act in the best interests of the historic event. I want to thank everyone I have worked with to date to prepare for Rome in 2023. I am hugely disappointed to not be allowed to continue in my role but wish you all the best in your ongoing preparations. It is a shame to witness the significant uncertainty surrounding the Ryder Cup, who will be eligible to play, etc. I sincerely hope a resolution between the tours and its members is reached soon and that the Ryder Cup can act as a mechanism for repair amongst various golfing bodies and their members.
“It goes without saying that I remain on hand to support Ryder Cup Europe in any way I can and very much hope the opportunity to represent Team Europe in some capacity will come my way again at some point in the future.”
While Ryder Cup Europe has yet to ban players who have defected to compete in the Saudi-backed rival league, it’s been reported that Stenson’s captain’s contract included language that he could not support or promote “other properties,” which included other tours, leagues, series or competitions.
Stenson addressed those contractual obligation in March: “There’s been a lot of speculation back and forth, but I am fully committed to the captaincy and to Ryder Cup Europe and the job at hand. The captain does sign a contract. He’s the only one that 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, so I’m fully committed to my role as a captain and working hard toward the result we want in Rome.”
Stenson said Wednesday that his decision to join LIV came down to a variety of factors, and he still planned on “supporting multiple tours in any way I can moving forward” so long as he wasn’t restricted from doing so. The PGA Tour has already banned its members who have defected to LIV.
“Clearly a part of my decision to play in LIV golf events has been commercially driven,” Stenson explained, “but the format, schedule and caliber of player were also significant factors. I am committed to growing the game and using the game as a strength for good.”
Ryder Cup Europe said that confirmation of its new captain “will be made in due course” and that it would not be commenting further “on any aspect of the process until that time.”
As for a potential replacement: Ian Poulter, Lee Westwood and Graeme McDowell were once considered good bets to captain teams one day, but all three have since signed with LIV. Luke Donald, Paul Lawrie and even past captain Thomas Bjorn, one of Stenson’s vice-captains, are all options.
Last year’s captain, Padraig Harrington, said earlier this month that he didn’t see himself captaining another squad.