What Stenson's Departure Means For The Ryder Cup

How will the Swede's decision to choose LIV Golf over the Ryder Cup impact the biennial USA vs Europe match?

Henrik Stenson holds the Ryder Cup
(Image credit: Getty Images)

The worst kept secret in golf is out. Henrik Stenson is clearly off to LIV Golf and his time as Ryder Cup captain is over.

“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," Stenson said in March.

Well, after a reported $50m offer the Swede has unfortunately had to make a very, very difficult decision and he ultimately is giving up the reins to Team Europe for Rome next year.

But what does his high-profile departure mean for the Ryder Cup?

On the face of it, it's a huge deal and it's embarrassing for both the Ryder Cup and the DP World Tour. The Ryder Cup is one of the very few events in golf where participants don't get paid and it has always been thought of as untouchable. 

A teary Ian Poulter telling his son after victory at Le Golf National in 2018 explained just that. "That's why you need to go and practise," Poulter senior told son Luke in one of the most heartwarming videos to come out of the match. "You'll never experience anything like it."

The likes of Poulter, Westwood, Garcia, McDowell and now Stenson will not be experiencing anything like it anymore after making the moves to LIV. None of them want to be ending their Ryder Cup careers but in the stage of their lives that they are, they clearly could not turn down the money being offered to them. It's extremely sad for the players/future captains, the tours and the fans, but whether it means a great deal for the Ryder Cup itself is still to be seen.

Whoever takes the helm next year in Rome will not be leading a bunch of journeymen or kids into an empty arena against some young US stars. The European captain, whoever that might be, will have a team lead by Rory McIlroy, Jon Rahm, Viktor Hovland, Matt Fitzpatrick, Tyrrell Hatton, Shane Lowry and co. And the atmosphere in Rome will be just as electric as it always is.

The US team might have lost DJ, DeChambeau, Koepka and Reed but it will still be headlined by Scottie Scheffler, Collin Morikawa, Justin Thomas, Jordan Spieth, Patrick Cantlay, Xander Schauffele, Will Zalatoris and others.

The Ryder Cup will certainly miss the handful of Americans not there and the handful of European legends missing, and it will certainly play a part in the storyline leading up to the event but by no means is the Ryder Cup dead.

The Ryder Cup has been hurt by LIV, undoubtedly so, and it could be hurt even more over the coming months, but it will still be the highlight of the golfing calendar next year and it should still contain most of the world's top players. It's one of the best events in sport and captivates audiences whether they're golf nuts, casual sports fans or not even sports fans at all.

We're sure to be reminded just how special the Ryder Cup is when the action tees off on Friday morning, 29th September 2023.

Elliott Heath
News Editor

Elliott Heath is our News Editor and has been with Golf Monthly since early 2016 after graduating with a degree in Sports Journalism. He manages the Golf Monthly news, features, courses and travel sections as well as our large Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages. He covered the 2022 Masters from Augusta National as well as four Open Championships on-site including the 150th at St Andrews. His first Open was in 2017 at Royal Birkdale, when he walked inside the ropes with Jordan Spieth during the Texan's memorable Claret Jug triumph. He has played 35 of our Top 100 golf courses, with his favourites being both Sunningdales, Woodhall Spa, Western Gailes, Old Head and Turnberry. He has been obsessed with the sport since the age of 8 and currently plays at West Byfleet Golf Club in Surrey, where his handicap index floats anywhere between 2-5. His golfing highlights are making albatross on the 9th hole on the Hotchkin Course at Woodhall Spa, shooting an under-par round, playing in the Aramco Team Series on the Ladies European Tour and making his one and only hole-in-one at the age of 15 - a long time ago now!

Elliott is currently playing:

Driver: Titleist TSR4

3 wood: Titleist TSi2 HL

Irons: Mizuno MP-H4 3-iron, Mizuno MP5 4-PW

Wedges: Cleveland RTX ZipCore 50, 54, 58

Putter: Odyssey White Hot OG #5