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Ryder Cup: Henrik Stenson removed as Europe's captain ahead of him joining LIV Golf Invitational Series

Ryder Cup Europe to announce successor to Henrik Stenson "in due course", with biennial contest taking place next September in Italy; Swede set to join LIV Golf Invitational Series and could make debut as early as the Bedminster event from July 29-31

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Rob Lee and Rich Beem discuss Henrik Stenson's decision to join LIV Golf, which will lead to his removal as Ryder Cup captain

Henrik Stenson has been removed from his role as Europe's next Ryder Cup captain ahead of his expected switch to the Saudi-backed LIV Golf Invitational Series.

Stenson was announced in March as Europe's successor to former captain Padraig Harrington, having made five appearances as a player before serving as a vice-captain in the record-breaking loss at Whistling Straits last September.

The 46-year-old was linked to the breakaway circuit even before he was handed the captaincy role for next September's contest in Italy, although said during his press conference at the time he was "fully committed to the captaincy and to Ryder Cup Europe".

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Golf expert Rob Lee says that the Ryder Cup is bigger than Henrik Stenson after he pulled out of being captain to join LIV Golf

Speculation returned when he told reporters that he was "undecided" on his future schedule after missing the cut at The 150th Open last week, with Stenson now removed from captaincy ahead

In a statement, Ryder Cup Europe said: "Today confirms that Henrik Stenson's tenure as Captain of Team Europe for the 2023 Ryder Cup at Marco Simone Golf and Country Club in Rome, Italy from September 25 - October 1, 2023, has been brought to an end with immediate effect.

"In light of decisions made by Henrik in relation to his personal circumstances, it has become clear that he will not be able to fulfil 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.

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Sky Sports golf presenter Rob Lee reacts to news of Hendrik Stenson joining LIV Golf, and having his Ryder Cup captaincy stripped off him

"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."

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Who could replace Stenson?

Thomas Bjorn had already been appointed as one of Stenson's vice-captains, having led Europe to victory in impressive fashion at Le Golf National in 2018, with the Dane a potential candidate to take on the captaincy for a second successive home contest.

Thomas Bjorn and Sergio Garcia during singles matches of the 2018 Ryder Cup at Le Golf National on September 30, 2018 in Paris, France.
Image: Thomas Bjorn guided Europe to a 17.5-10.5 victory at Le Golf National in 2018

Scotland's Paul Lawrie was under consideration when Stenson was initially appointed and is likely to be once again, with former world No 1 Luke Donald a possible option having featured in four winning teams and also acting twice as a vice-captain.

Lawrie said on social media his name had 'never been out of the hat' for captaincy consideration and told Sky Sports News: "I remain committed to the Tour and would still like nothing more than to be the next Ryder Cup captain. Given the opportunity, I would see it as one of the highlights of my career"

Edoardo Molinari was already a confirmed member of Stenson's backroom staff, ahead of the Ryder Cup heading to Italy for the first time, while Robert Karlsson is another contender having served as a vice-captain for the previous two European teams.

What does it mean for Team Europe?

Stenson's removal as captain comes just over 14 months out from the biennial contest, with former PGA champion Rich Beem believing the change will create unwanted distraction for Europe in their quest to regain the trophy.

"I think it's unfortunate for the European side," Beem told Sky Sports News. "After the Americans got the better of them by a long shot at Whistling Straits, I don't think the European team could have this on them as well.

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American golfer Richard Beem is left disappointed following the news of Henrik Stenson potentially joining the LIV Golf Series

"Both teams are probably going to change quite significantly with this LIV series, but you don't want the next Ryder Cup on European soil with distraction and this definitely a distraction.

"It'll be interesting to see exactly who joins that series next. Is it getting stronger? Yeah, and I think the DP World Tour and the PGA have their hands full with what's going on and the amount of money being thrown at these players."

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Padraig Harrington says he's disappointed that Henrik Stenson didn't wait until after next year's Ryder Cup to join the LIV Golf Invitational Series

'Stenson the latest golfing U-turn'

Players must be a member of the DP World Tour to compete in the Ryder Cup or captain the European side, with the former major winner's intention to join LIV Golf only extending the deepening rift in the men's professional game.

"It's the worst-kept secret in history that Stenson was going to go to LIV and basically let the DP World Tour down, which is what he has done," Sky Sports' Robert Lee said. "Now, the Tour has to move past that.

"The next captain will be installed and then it will be business as usual for the Ryder Cup, but obviously everyone is disappointed having had assurances from Henrik that he wanted to do the job.

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Former 2010 European Ryder Cup captain Colin Montgomerie is disappointed by the potential news of Henrik Stenson being stripped of the same captaincy for the 2023 team

"It's a massive honour to be Ryder Cup captain and sadly for him, he's not going to be the Ryder Cup captain anymore. How many captains get the job and go 'nah, don't want it'? The fact that Henrik has done that is for only one reason, and that is cash.

"Everyone was behind Stenson, he had given assurances, and we all thought he was going to give us two years of his time, do his captaincy and make a really good job, but now all of a sudden there has been that U-turn. We've seen that with so many players, where they say 'I'm all PGA Tour' then five minutes later are off to LIV, so Stenson just becomes one of those."

What next for Stenson?

Stenson could make his LIV Golf Invitational debut in Bedminster from July 29-31, the third of eight events scheduled in 2022, with the Swede set to fill one of the three vacant spots from the initial field announcement on Tuesday evening.

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DP World Tour golfer Matthew Southgate has defended the LIV Golf players, insisting they have the right to choose where they play

Paul Casey also makes his debut at Trump National Golf Club Bedminster, joining former Ryder Cup winners Sergio Garcia, Martin Kaymer, Ian Poulter and Lee Westwood in action, along with last year's participant Bernd Wiesberger.

Bryson DeChambeau, Dustin Johnson, Brooks Koepka and Patrick Reed - all previous members of Team USA's Ryder Cup - are also in the 48-man field, with the remaining players involved set to be announced by tournament organisers later this week.

Further LIV Golf series tournaments take place in Boston from September 2-4 and Chicago from September 16-18, before back-to-back events in Asia in October ahead of the season-ending Team Championship in Miami from October 27-30.

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