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LIV Golf has officially infected the Ryder Cup, as 2023 European team captain Henrik Stenson has been stripped of his captaincy for joining the rival league. The five-time Ryder Cup participant knew the consequences this decision might bring, but he chose to take the money and run anyway.

So, with a Ryder Cup captain spot now up for grabs, let’s go through the five names Team Europe should be eyeing up to take Stenson’s place.

Henrik Stenson booted as Ryder Cup captain after joining LIV Golf

This week, Stenson became the newest player to bolt from the PGA Tour to join LIV Golf. He’ll join fellow Ryder Cup veterans Lee Westwood, Ian Poulter, and Sergio Garcia in the rival league.

But Stenson’s decision was much different. As the Ryder Cup captain for Team Europe in 2023, he knew that position could be stripped away if he abandoned the PGA Tour to partner with the Saudis. That’s exactly what’s transpired, as Ryder Cup Europe announced in a statement this week that Stenson has been stripped of his captaincy.

“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 on Tuesday, March 15, 2022, and it is therefore not possible for him to continue in the role of Captain,” the statement read.

Now, the search for a new captain begins.

Ranking the 5 best replacements for Team Europe’s Ryder Cup captain

Luke Donald reacts after a tee shot.
Luke Donald reacts to his tee shot on the 17th hole during day two of the Afternoon Four-Ball Matches for The 39th Ryder Cup at Medinah Country Club | Jamie Squire/Getty Images

1. Luke Donald

The former No. 1 player in the world is a four-time Ryder Cup participant (10-4-1 record), and he was in the running for captain in 2023 until Stenson won the job. Donald should be the first name considered for the open spot.

2. Thomas Bjørn

As a captain in 2018, Bjørn led Team Europe to a dominant 17.5-10.5 victory in France. With limited time to name a new captain for next year, going back to a proven leader may be the best option for Team Europe.

3. Bernhard Langer

Speaking of proven leaders, Langer led Europe to a record-setting 18.5-9.5 victory back in 2004 on U.S. soil. He’s consistently stuck around as a vice captain since, but this could be the perfect time to get back on the saddle.

4. Robert Karlsson

Karlsson, a two-time Ryder Cup participant, was a finalist alongside Donald before Stenson was named captain of the European squad. He’ll no doubt be a top contender now that the spot is up for grabs again.

5. Padraig Harrington

Team Europe flopped with Harrington as captain last year, but he would be the easiest name to plug in on late notice. Who doesn’t love a good redemption story?

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