Henrik Stenson Removed as Europe's Ryder Cup Captain amid LIV Golf Buzz

Tim Daniels@@TimDanielsBRFeatured Columnist IVJuly 20, 2022

Sweden's Henrik Stenson gestures on the 2nd tee during his opening round on the first day of The 150th British Open Golf Championship on The Old Course at St Andrews in Scotland on July 14, 2022. - RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE (Photo by Paul ELLIS / AFP) / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE (Photo by PAUL ELLIS/AFP via Getty Images)
PAUL ELLIS/AFP via Getty Images

The European Ryder Cup team announced Wednesday that Henrik Stenson has been stripped of his captaincy ahead of the 2023 event.

BBC Sport reported the decision comes amid rumors Stenson is set to join LIV Golf.

"It is not possible for him to continue in the role of captain. His tenure as captain has been brought to an end with immediate effect," Ryder Cup Europe said. "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."

Stenson was announced as Europe's new Ryder Cup captain in March and shot down speculation he'd consider jumping to a rival tour, which would threaten that role.

"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," Stenson told reporters. "The captain does sign a contract. He's the only one that does that."

Rumors about his future re-emerged after he missed the cut at last week's Open Championship. He was asked about his upcoming schedule and said he was "undecided."

Ewan Murray of The Guardian reported the 46-year-old Swede is indeed heading for LIV Golf, and he could debut as soon as next week in New Jersey after accepting a "lucrative offer."

LIV, which is financially backed by Saudi Arabia and has been accused of being a "sportswashing" venture, has been able to attract several high-profile golfers through the allure of massive guaranteed contracts and a limited schedule of 54-hole, no-cut events.

Tiger Woods is among the PGA Tour stars who've criticized players who made the switch.

"I think that what they've done is they've turned their back on what has allowed them to get to this position," Woods said before The Open last week.

So far, both Team United States and Team Europe have operated as if golfers who play in LIV Golf won't be eligible for next year's Ryder Cup, which is scheduled to take place at Italy's Marco Simone Golf and Country Club starting Sept. 29, 2023.

ESPN's Mark Schlabach noted potential replacements for Stenson include Luke Donald, Paul Lawrie and Robert Karlsson.

Stenson is a five-time member of Europe's Ryder Cup squad, making his debut in 2006 and most recently playing in the 2018 event.

Individually, he twice won the European Tour's Race to Dubai (2013 and 2016) and captured his only major championship at The Open in 2016.

He's now set to join a LIV roster that also features Phil Mickelson, Bryson DeChambeau, Brooks Koepka, Dustin Johnson, Patrick Reed and Sergio Garcia, among others.