‘You’ve got to stick to it’: Padraig Harrington is disappointed in Henrik Stenson’s Ryder Cup captaincy void


Padraig Harrington and the rest of the European selection team will be naming a new captain for Rome 2023.

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Team Europe is experiencing unprecedented upheaval in the wake of Henrik Stenson’s departure to Saudi-backed LIV Golf, which resulted in the Swede being stripped of his 2023 Ryder Cup captaincy when the Cup heads to Rome next year.

Stenson served as vice captain to Padraig Harrington at the 2021 Ryder Cup at Whistling Straits in September, and Harrington was clearly disappointed in Stenson’s decision when Harrington was asked about the situation ahead of last week’s Senior Open Championship at Gleneagles.

“Clearly it’s unfortunate, the situation that he’s not going to continue on as captain,” Harrington said. “He signed a contract not to do that and was specifically asked not to do that. So yes, I don’t — I have no empathy there. No, he took The Ryder Cup job when LIV was in doubt, and now that LIV is pretty much mainstream normalized, he’s jumped ship.”

Stenson is one of many European stalwarts who have recently left the PGA and DP World Tours for LIV Golf, joining Lee Westwood, Sergio Garcia, Paul Casey and Ian Poulter.

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“He wanted to take something on when LIV looked like it wasn’t going to happen. And now that LIV, as we see, is mainstream, pretty close to being mainstream, there’s certainly less risk in joining the LIV Tour. He’s gone over, which I know it’s a financial decision,” Harrington continued. “We’re all here to make money and things like that but there is an element of like signing up to do something, and as much as it might suit him now and as much as it financially — financially being a Ryder Cup Captain in Europe is very lucrative. Clearly it’s financially better to go over to LIV but sometimes when you sign up for something, you have to accept that you made the decision at the time and you’ve got to stick to it. In that sense, he signed to say he wouldn’t do it.”

Harrington is on Team Europe’s selection committee and said that despite the setback with Stenson, the team will be ready next fall.

“It’s plenty of time. Fifteen months is loads of time,” he said. “Give him credit, he didn’t pull out like a month before or three months before. It is 15 months, plenty of time. No issue as regards the actual team and like there’s been nothing set in place about the selection processes or qualification processes. Really doesn’t affect the Ryder Cup in any shape or form. I’m sure we’ll have a new captain installed pretty soon.”

It will be a big moment for Team Europe, who will be looking to bounce back from a 19-9 thumping by Team USA at Whistling Straits when the match heads back to Europe next year.

The 2023 Ryder Cup begins on Friday, September 29, 2023.

Golf.com Editor

As a four-year member of Columbia’s inaugural class of female varsity golfers, Jessica can out-birdie everyone on the masthead. She can out-hustle them in the office, too, where she’s primarily responsible for producing both print and online features, and overseeing major special projects, such as GOLF’s inaugural Style Is­sue, which debuted in February 2018. Her origi­nal interview series, “A Round With,” debuted in November of 2015, and appeared in both in the magazine and in video form on GOLF.com.

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