Henrik Stenson stripped of 2023 Ryder Cup captaincy amid rumored defection to LIV Golf Invitational Series

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Another major championship winner appears to be on the verge of making the jump to the LIV Golf Invitational Series as Ryder Cup Europe confirmed that Henrik Stenson has been removed as its captain for the 2023 Ryder Cup in Rome. The 46-year-old would be the latest European to change allegiances and join former Ryder Cup teammates Sergio Garcia, Ian Poulter, Lee Westwood, Paul Casey and Graeme McDowell with the PGA Tour and DP World Tour rival.

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

This obviously goes against what Stenson said earlier this year when he was asked if there were anymore breakaway circuits on his agenda later in 2022.

“There’s been a lot of speculations back and forth, and as I said, I am fully committed to the captaincy and to Ryder Cup Europe and the job at hand,” said Stenson. “So we’re going to keep busy with that and I’m going to do everything in my power to deliver a winning team in Rome.”

He also said that the Ryder Cup for him has been the experience of a lifetime.

“The Ryder Cup is golf, and sport, at its very best. I got goosebumps every time I pulled on a European shirt as a player and that will be magnified in the role of Captain,” said Stenson. “While it is great for me personally, it is also great for my country and all the players from Sweden who have played for Europe with such distinction since Joakim Haeggman became the first in 1993.”

Stenson added: “When I started out as a professional golfer, it was beyond my wildest dreams that, one day, I would follow in the footsteps of legends of the game such as Seve and be the European Ryder Cup Captain. But today proves that, sometimes, dreams do come true.”

The 2016 Open champion had since added to the leadership room by confirming Thomas Bjorn and Edoardo Molinari as vice captains. With Stenson’s absence, Bjorn will likely become the next man up as the Dane led the European Ryder Cup Team to victory in 2018 at Le Golf National in Paris, France, and may spearhead their efforts to recapture the cup in Rome. Luke Donald has also been rumored to be in the running.

Stenson’s impending decision comes as a slight surprise, as he is not only giving up his Ryder Cup captaincy but also potential playing privileges on the PGA Tour and maybe even the DP World Tour — where he co-hosts the Scandinavian Mixed with Anika Sorenstam.

This is a coup for LIV Golf. Stenson’s game has diminished in recent years, but to continue to chip away at all the lions of past European Ryder Cups gives it not also some marketing points but also decimates the DP World Tour (formerly the European Tour), which owns the European side of the Ryder Cup.

At the moment, the dollar amount Stenson will receive from LIV Golf is unknown. From a financial perspective, this does make some sense for the Swede, as he was one of many victims to lose a substantial portion of his wealth in the Allen Stanford Ponzi scheme. At the time describing the loss as “a big part” of his savings, it was later revealed Stenson had lost roughly $8 million.

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