Paul Lawrie says changing Ryder Cup captaincy process would be 'a joke'

Paul Lawrie says it will be “a joke” and lead to “fun and games” if Henrik Stenson’s replacement as Europe’s Ryder Cup captain isn’t one of the three other original candidates.

Paul Lawrie and Thomas Bjorn walk up the third hole on the King's Course in the first round of The Senior Open Presented by Rolex at Gleneagles. Picture: Mark Runnacles/Getty Images.
Paul Lawrie and Thomas Bjorn walk up the third hole on the King's Course in the first round of The Senior Open Presented by Rolex at Gleneagles. Picture: Mark Runnacles/Getty Images.

The Swede was selected in March after a process that also saw Lawrie, Luke Donald and Robert Karlsson interviewed for the post for the 2023 match in Rome.

Following Stenson being stripped of the captaincy over his decision to sign up for the Saudi-backed LIV Golf Invitational Series, the job is up for grabs again.

If the initial process is repeated, the new captain will be picked by the three most recent ones - Darren Clarke, Thomas Bjorn and Padraig Harrington - as well as DP World Tour chief executive Keith Pelley and David Howell, chairman of the tournament players’ committee.

“My situation has not changed,” said Lawrie, speaking at Gleneagles, where he is playing in this week’s Senior Open Presented by Rolex.

“I assume they just go back to the way they did it before, with the five guys voting on the now three people who were up for the job initially. I’m led to believe that might not be the case.

“And, if it’s not the case then it’s a joke, to be honest. It has to be the same way as it was before.

“You’re still trying to appoint the captain for a role, you’re not looking for something different. So let’s see what happens. I’ve not heard anything.”

Asked why he felt the process might be different, the two-time Ryder Cup player added: “You hear Thomas’s name is being banded about now. I don’t see how that can be the case. He’s voting.

“How can you get the job when you are voting? I don’t get it. But we’ll wait and see. Nobody knows what is happening. I think it’s next week when they decide.

“The four people who were up for the job, five people voted on that four. Now that Henrik is out of the picture, surely the same five people vote for now the three who were up for the job in the first place.

“You can’t change the rules. The process is the process. Let’s see. It’ll be fun and games if it’s not I’m telling you.”

Bjorn, who was in the same group as Lawrie in the opening round at Gleneagles, appealed for calm when he was asked about the situation.

“I’d like to digest it before I have anything to say,” said the 2018-winning captain who had been appointed by Stenson as a vice-captain along with Edoardo Molinari. “There’s just so much to think about and it’s emotional and I just want to digest it all.”

Had it been a shock to him that Stenson had defected to LIV Golf after signing a contract with Ryder Cup Europe that blocked such a move?

“Nothing shocks me at the moment if I’m going to be honest. It really doesn’t,” added the Dane.

“We’ve got time and it’ll be sorted. But I just think we all need to deal with what’s right in front of us now. Just kind of breathe a little. It’s emotional at the moment.”

Bjorn and Lawrie opened with rounds of 67 and 69 respectively as Canadian Stephen Ames and American Glenn Day set the pace with 64s.

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