Less than two weeks after Ryder Cup Europe removed Henrik Stenson as its 2023 captain, a replacement has officially been named.
Luke Donald, a four-time Ryder Cupper and a vice captain for each of the past two editions, will lead the home side next year at Marco Simon Golf Club in Rome.
"It really never crossed my mind to say no because this is truly an honor for me," Donald said during an appearance on "Golf Today" on Monday. "I’ve had so many great Ryder Cup moments and memories. I think being a captain is like a lifetime achievement award in a way."
The decision comes after Stenson signed with LIV Golf, a move that prompted Ryder Cup Europe and DP World Tour officials to meet with the newly appointed captain last week. After the meeting, Stenson was stripped of his duties, with officials saying via statement, “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 that he had committed to prior to his announcement as captain … and it is therefore not possible for him to continue in the role of captain.”
Added a "disappointed" Stenson: "It goes without saying that I remain on hand to support Ryder Cup Europe in any way I can and very much hope the opportunity to represent Team Europe in some capacity will come my way again at some point in the future."
Less than a week later, Donald was reported by The Telegraph to fill the captaincy void. Donald didn't confirm the report last week in Detroit, but he did tell Golfweek that if named captain, he would not "pull a Henrik."
“I was surprised that he would put his name forward if his plan was to go to LIV, which, you know, the rumors, and I hate to talk about rumors, but rumors are that he’d been in contact with the rival tours, whatever they were, and he was very interested,” said Donald, who added that he had turned down an offer to be part of LIV's broadcast team. “And I think everyone knew that. The European tour knew that. They obviously took his word that he wasn’t going to do it. We all have to sign a clause or contract saying that we won’t have anything to do with (LIV). I’m disappointed I guess that he would put his name forward and then go to LIV. I understand certain guys going to LIV in certain situations in their careers and stuff, that makes sense. But obviously something big to give up.”
The 44-year-old Englishman, who was considered one of the favorites for the job before Stenson was awarded the honor in mid-March, will keep Thomas Bjorn and Edoardo Molinari as his vice captains. He also expects to announce more assistants "in due time" as well as updated qualification criteria, which because of LIV figures to look different than in previous years.
"I still have 14 months, and I think that’s going to be plenty of time to get things in order," Donald said. "I’ve certainly got a couple of great vice captains behind me who have done some of the work in the last few months, and I’ll certainly be meeting up with them and getting the ball rolling. I’m extremely excited about this journey and I can’t wait to get started."