Henrik Stenson removed as European Ryder Cup captain amid LIV reports

Henrik Stenson's tenure as European Ryder Cup captain lasted all of four months.

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The European Ryder Cup team is in a tumultuous position as it has removed Henrik Stenson as the 2023 captain, without delegating his replacement. 

The announcement came just hours before Stenson acknowledged he would be joining LIV Golf, the upstart league that has plucked some of the best players in the world. 

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“In light of decisions made by Henrik in relation to his personal circumstances,” a statement from Ryder Cup Europe read, “it 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 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.”

Even though the event is not due to take place for another 14 months, questions abound for how the next iteration of the Ryder Cup will look. When Dustin Johnson committed to LIV Golf in early June, and then alerted press that he had resigned his membership from the PGA Tour, that implied that he would be forgoing his potential inclusion on the American team. 

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As PGA of America CEO Seth Waugh made clear, in order to compete in the Ryder Cup, an American golfer must be a member of the PGA of America, and they earn that status as being a member of the PGA Tour. In other words, it would appear that any players who resigned their Tour status would void their Ryder Cup chances. Current captain Zach Johnson essentially confirmed the same membership setup.

Stenson’s case is similar but different. When he agreed to be captain in mid-March, he committed to various duties, appearances, and responsibilities that come along with the post. The announcement put to bed plenty of consternation about who would take the role, for at the time it was rumored that Stenson was considering joining LIV Golf. The DP World Tour, which runs the European half of the Ryder Cup, would not have granted him that role if he made the jump to LIV Golf. Now he’s made that decision.

“My interest in this concept has been well documented over the past few years,” Stenson said in a statement, “and despite some of the unfortunate and ongoing tension between LIV Golf, the DP World Tour & PGA Tours, ultimately, the opportunity to play in LIV events moving forward is something that I want to experience.”

Jamie Weir of Sky Sports initially reported Stenson’s commitment to LIV as the final round of the Open Championship played out Sunday afternoon. Weir added context to that report Wednesday, saying he will join LIV in advance of next week’s event at Trump Bedminster, and will join the Majestiks team headed by Ian Poulter and Lee Westwood. Two other names are expected to join the Bedminster field in the coming days.

Despite LIV Golf rumors circling throughout Open week, the Stenson decision still comes as a surprise, considering what he said Friday after he missed the cut. As recently as late May Stenson visited the host course of the 2023 Ryder Cup, Marco Simone Golf and Country Club, and even began making course adjustments to the fairway widths and various cuts of grass. He had announced Edoardo Molinari as a vice captain during that time, joining Thomas Bjorn in the ranks of Stenson’s former team. Now, Bjorn is one of the rumored candidates to replace Stenson, as well as four-time Ryder Cupper Luke Donald.

Sean Zak

Golf.com Editor

Zak is a writer and host for various GOLF.com video properties and podcasts. Check out his travels on Destination Golf and his latest thoughts on the Drop Zone Podcast:

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