Henrik Stenson Named European Ryder Cup Captain For Rome 2023

Stenson becomes the first Swedish Ryder Cup captain in history

Henrik Stenson celebrates with the crowd after Ryder Cup victory
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Henrik Stenson has been announced as the European Ryder Cup captain for 2023, becoming the first Swede to hold the position in Ryder Cup history. 

Speaking of his appointment, Stenson said: "I am absolutely thrilled and delighted to be the European Ryder Cup Captain – it is a huge honour and I was humbled to get the call confirming the news. I would like to thank the selection panel for believing in me and will say to them, and every European golf fan, that I will do everything in my power and leave no stone unturned in the quest to get the Ryder Cup back in European hands.
 
“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. 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.
 
“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.”

Guy Kinnings, the European Ryder Cup Director, gave Stenson a glowing reception. He said: “Henrik has all the qualities to be a great Captain. He has an incredibly impressive golfing CV as a Major Champion, two-time European Number One and FedEx Cup winner, and in the Ryder Cup he played five times and played with distinction, including holing the winning putt in 2006 at The K Club.

“So he comes with all the credibility of what he has achieved, and as we all know a dry a sense of humour and a fantastic warm personality, but he is also a ferocious competitor. He is hugely respected by the players and admired by everyone involved with the game and the Ryder Cup.”

Stenson will lead the team in Rome and is immediately tasked with bouncing back from Europe’s heaviest defeat at Whistling Straits, where the youngest United States team in history demolished Europe 19-9.

Luke Donald and Stenson had been the leading candidates for the position, with Robert Karlsson and Paul Lawrie also considered. Stenson’s position was initially brought into question by his rumoured involvement with the Saudi-backed Super League but it would seem he has given sufficient assurances to the Ryder Cup committee.

The committee is made up of the last three European captains - Darren Clarke, Thomas Bjorn, and Padraig Harrington - plus David Howell, the chairman of the DP World Tour’s Tournament Committee, and Tour chief executive Keith Pelley. The committee was reported to fear “embarrassment” should a Ryder Cup captain take up Saudi approaches so Stenson’s announcement all but confirms his commitment to the PGA and DP World Tour in future.

Stenson was vice-captain to Padraig Harrington at Whistling Straits and possesses all the ingredients to make a great Ryder Cup captain, with the perfect balance of intelligence, cheek, authoritarian and emotion; which has ultimately earned him the nickname of the 'Ice Man' over the years. 

The Swede made his Ryder Cup debut at the K Club in 2006 where he holed the winning putt in a dominant 18.5-9.5 victory. He would go on to make five appearances in total for Team Europe and feature on three winning teams, with a record of 10-7-2. 

As well as Ryder Cup glory, Stenson has tasted success all around the world. In 2013, he became the first person to win both the Race to Dubai and the FedEx Cup in the same season and who can forget what happened at Troon? His duel with Phil Mickelson, and subsequent victory, broke the major Championship scoring record for both lowest total to par (-20) and aggregate shots (264). 

Henrik Stenson and Thomas Bjorn smile with the Ryder Cup trophy

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Stenson will face off against United States captain, Zach Johnson. Like Stenson, the 46-year-old two-time Major winner was a vice-captain at Whistling Straits. While Team USA beat Europe by a record margin last time out, Johnson will be faced with the difficult task of winning the Ryder Cup on European soil, a feat last achieved by an American team nearly 30 years ago, when Tom Watson’s USA triumphed 15-13 over Bernard Gallacher’s European side at The Belfry in 1993.

Johnson must also overcome his less than stellar Ryder Cup record as a player if he is to continue USA’s recent success. He played in five Ryder Cups, losing the first four before tasting victory in 2016 at Hazeltine National Golf Club.

Henrik Stenson celebrates with champagne after Ryder Cup victory

(Image credit: Getty Images)

James joined Golf Monthly having previously written for other digital outlets. He is obsessed with all areas of the game – from tournament golf, to history, equipment, technique and travel. He is also an avid collector of memorabilia; with items from the likes of Bobby Jones, Tiger Woods, Francis Ouimet, Arnold Palmer, Lee Trevino, Adam Scott and Ernie Els. As well as writing for Golf Monthly, James’ golfing highlight is fist bumping Phil Mickelson on his way to winning the Open Championship at Muirfield in 2013. James grew up on the east coast of England and is the third generation of his golfing family. He now resides in Leeds and is a member of Cobble Hall Golf Club with a handicap index of 1.7. His favourite films are The Legend of Bagger Vance and Tin Cup.