Martin Dempster: I can never dislike Henrik Stenson but he's let people down

It’s still not sitting well and, quite frankly, never will. I’m referring, of course, to Europe having been left looking for a new Ryder Cup captain by Henrik Stenson.

I’ll be honest here by admitting that the Swede is probably my favourite golfer in the game outside of the many Scots, past and present, I’ve come across over the years.

He’s one of the funniest individuals you’ll ever meet and we had some great banter in the interview room when he beat Phil Mickelson in their thrilling title duel to become Open champion at Royal Troon in 2016.

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Based on all my dealings with him over years, Stenson will always be someone I really like as an individual, yet there can be no denying that he’s let people down.

Henrik Stenson speaks in March when he was appointed as Europe's Ryder Cup captain. Picture: Hailey Garrett/Getty Images.

Due to him being linked with LIV Golf, a clause was inserted into the contract when he became the first Swede to be appointed as Ryder Cup captain in March.

“I am fully committed to the captaincy and to Ryder Cup Europe and the job at hand,” he said on the day he took up the job for the 2023 match in Italy.

“So we're going to keep busy with that and I'm going to do everything in my power to deliver a winning team in Rome.”

Not any more. Not after he was stripped of the captaincy just before being officially announced as one of the latest LIV Golf recruits ahead of the breakaway circuit’s third event at Trump Bedminster in New Jersey this week.

Like the others, Stenson has been lured by money, reportedly £40 million in his case, and his capture will certainly be viewed as something of a coup by LIV Golf chief Greg Norman.

Yes, it’s a blow that Ryder Cup Europe could have done without but Stenson’s successor - be it Paul Lawrie, Luke Donald, Robert Karlsson, Thomas Bjorn or whoever - will be handed an exciting opportunity.

As things stand, they’ll have the likes of Rory McIlroy, Jon Rahm, Viktor Hovland, Matt Fitzpatick, Shane Lowry, Tommy Fleetwood and Tyrrell Hatton in their ranks in Rome.

Coupled with potential new blood in the Hojgaard twins - Nicolai and Rasmus - Adri Arnaus, Guido Migliozzi, Victor Perez and, hopefully, Bob MacIntyre, the future can still be bright for Europe in the biennial event.

Yes, the likes of Stenson, Lee Westwood, Sergio Garcia, Ian Poulter, Martin Kaymer and Graeme McDowell have all been great Ryder Cup players.

But, having signed on the dotted line for LIV, they’ve got their own team event to keep them occupied now, so let others get on with the one that will continue to capture the widest audience in the game and rightly so.

In the meantime, a photograph of Henrik Stenson is still on display in our house but it just about sums up the disappointment he’s created that Mrs Dempster, possibly his biggest fan, had been contemplating it disappearing.

You wonder what Bjorn, Darren Clarke and Padraig Harrington will have to say to his face, having been involved in his appointment as the three most recent captains only to now be left feeling let down. As lots of others are after believing the bases had been covered on this one but sadly not.

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