Henrik Stenson and Luke Donald favoured to lead Europe in 2023 Ryder Cup

Stenson appearing at the 2022 Saudi International is a potential spanner in the works

Henrik Stenson was a vice captain at the recent Ryder Cup at Whistling Straits. Photograph:  Stacy Revere/Getty Images

Henrik Stenson was a vice captain at the recent Ryder Cup at Whistling Straits. Photograph: Stacy Revere/Getty Images

 

Henrik Stenson and Luke Donald are the leading contenders to captain Europe in the 2023 Ryder Cup, with Lee Westwood’s move to withdraw his name from the running leaving the European Tour with a decision that is far from straightforward.

Sources close to the European camp believe Stenson is the obvious frontrunner to succeed Pádraig Harrington for the biennial event should he wish to lead Europe in Italy. Speaking this week at the Hero World Challenge, Stenson suggested he is yet to make up his mind.

“Like a lot of people, I thought Lee was going to be next in line,” Stenson said. “But I heard that he now wants to focus on his own game and feels like it is going to be too much of a clash at this point in his career and the time frame.

“We’ll see what happens, but I have certainly got some experience as a vice-captain [at Whistling Straits this year] and we’ll see if we need to put on the big shoes in the future. It’s still early to tell on that but it’s good to be part of the conversation.”

However, there are complications. Stenson, aged 45, may well choose to continue to dedicate time to his playing career. “I feel like if I can get my came to where I want it to be and where it it can be, I can have another Ryder Cup in me,” he admitted.

That Stenson’s name appears on the list of players competing in the 2022 Saudi International, a bete noire for the European Tour, is also problematic.

“There’s obviously different wills and the Saudi International was a European Tour event for three years,” Stenson said. “A lot of the players you saw announced had agreements to go back and play even before we knew it was going to be on the same week as a European Tour event. You have players who signed up for multiple years a year back or so who have a commitment to go back there and play.

“It is one of those situations and I can only say that I had an arrangement to come back and play. It’s been a good tournament on the schedule and it fitted in once again on my schedule. I will fulfil my commitment to go and play there and what happens in terms of the tour, who knows? I believe there’s a European Tour event in Ras al Khaimah the same week. The other one was planned ahead of that one and you can’t be in two places at the same time, I found that out a long time ago.”

Nonetheless, with Europe’s Ryder Cup captain due to be confirmed early in the new year Stenson’s Saudi connection inevitably raises eyebrows. Westwood, who has taken a swipe at the European Tour, is also in the Saudi field.

Donald would, in theory, be a more simple sell albeit his reputation in the game is not as strong as Stenson’s. A former world number one, Donald appeared in four Ryder Cups and was on the winning team each time. Still only 43, the Englishman’s playing career has suffered in recent times but he was a Ryder Cup vice-captain in both 2018 and 2021. That element of succession planning will inevitably appeal to the European Tour.

Further, for now less likely, options for Europe include turning to Graeme McDowell or even asking Thomas Bjorn to repeat his success from Paris in 2018. Anybody offered the European captaincy must also balance chances of success with the strength of a United States team who swaggered to a record, 19-9 victory in Wisconsin. Ian Poulter is thought to have his eyes on captaining Europe at Bethpage in 2025. - Guardian

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
SUBSCRIBE
GO BACK
Error Image
The account details entered are not currently associated with an Irish Times subscription. Please subscribe to sign in to comment.
Comment Sign In

Forgot password?
The Irish Times Logo
Thank you
You should receive instructions for resetting your password. When you have reset your password, you can Sign In.
The Irish Times Logo
Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.
Screen Name Selection

Hello

Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
SUBSCRIBE
Forgot Password
Please enter your email address so we can send you a link to reset your password.

Sign In

Your Comments
We reserve the right to remove any content at any time from this Community, including without limitation if it violates the Community Standards. We ask that you report content that you in good faith believe violates the above rules by clicking the Flag link next to the offending comment or by filling out this form. New comments are only accepted for 3 days from the date of publication.