By Bernie McGuire in the Bahamas.
The quest to select a 2023 European Ryder Cup captain has narrowed with Henrik Stenson ruling himself out of handling the Rome reins.
Stenson, now aged 45, took a first step to potential European Team captaincy in being chosen as a Whistling Straits vice-captain after five appearances as an automatic team member. The Swede made his Ryder Cup debut in the 2006 winning side and earned European Team caps in 2008, 2014, 2016 and 2018.
And with Lee Westwood declaring he is not interested in the 2023 captaincy, the choice now seems to have narrowed to either Luke Donald, Robert Karlsson, Graeme McDowell or Ian Poulter.
“We’ll just have to see what comes up here. I think, like a lot of people, I thought Lee was going to be next in line but I had 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 timeframe,” said Stenson.
“We’ll see what happens, but I have certainly got some experience as a vice captain and we’ll see if we need to put on the big shoes in the future. It’s still early to tell, but it’s good to be part of the conversation.”
Of course, Stenson is no different to Westwood in that he believes he still has much to offer inside the Ryder Cup ropes.
“Yeah, I feel like if I can get my game to where I want it to be and where it can be, I can have another Ryder Cup in me,” said Stenson.
“We’ll just have to see if we can make it happen. When was the last time we had a playing captain (laughing).”
In his first taste of being a European Team vice-captain Stenson indicated he enjoyed the new challenge despite the outcome.
“I enjoyed it. It’s always a special week to be part of the European Ryder Cup team and this time around it was in a different capacity, of course,” he said.
“It’s probably longer days on the golf course, but less stressful and it was certainly interesting. When you are a player, it’s a very busy week with team meetings, media commitments and this and that.
“It’s the biggest stage in golf and, as a player, you always want to play well that week. You don’t really think too much about what is going on with the captain and the vice-captains.
“It was interesting to see it from that side and be part of that. You are trying to support the captain and when you are out there, you are trying to support the groups you are walking with.
“I spent pretty much all week with Jon Rahm and Sergio Garcia. It was because my Spanish is excellent and I could obviously teach them a few new words (laughing).
“I was taking my role as seriously as I could. I was the one called in the week before. I wasn’t part of the lead up like Robert [Karlsson], Luke [Donald], Graeme [McDowell] and Martin [Kaymer] had been.
“Nothing beats playing but, if you can’t play, I was more than happy to be there helping out. You’ll have to ask the other guys if I was annoying or did some use.
“It was a fun week and I would rather be part of a losing team than not be part of a team at all. That was certainly the case as a player and it was the same as a vice-captain. It is the highlight of the season, I’d say, and some of my greatest memories in my career comes from being part of the European team and we’ll see what happens in the future.”