One of the most respected and authoritative figures in the world of golf, Guy Kinnings joined the DP World Tour in the role of Deputy CEO and Ryder Cup Director in 2018. Formerly IMG’s Senior Vice President and Chairman of Golf – a company he had been a part of since 1989 – Kinnings brought a wealth of experience and expertise in all sectors of the game to the leadership team at Wentworth, along with valued relationships with golf’s global Tours, national Federations and corporate partners.
In every Ryder Cup cycle, the appointment of the two Captains represents the moment when one of global sport’s greatest contests suddenly feels that little bit closer.
Earlier this month, I had the great pleasure of delivering the news to Henrik Stenson that he had been selected as the person to lead Europe next year at Marco Simone, in Rome.
For Henrik, it was the realisation of his dream to follow in the footsteps of legends such as Seve Ballesteros as European Captain, while for Ryder Cup Europe and the Federazione Italiana Golf it was the latest milestone in a journey that began on December 14, 2015 when Italy was awarded its first Ryder Cup.
Henrik’s appointment came a fortnight after the US Team announced Zach Johnson as their Captain, meaning the men who won successive Open Championships in 2015 and 2016 will lead Team Europe and Team USA in Rome in just under 18 months’ time.
It also followed a comprehensive debrief with all stakeholders following the defeat at Whistling Straits. That process identified some new measures, approaches and resources which will enhance the already established winning formula which has served us so well over the past three decades, leading to nine European victories in the past 13 Ryder Cups.
While there has been considerable work by so many people behind the scenes across that debrief, and indeed over the past seven years since Marco Simone was announced as our host venue, the confirmation of the two Captains unlocks the next phase in the planning process for the 2023 Ryder Cup.
Both Henrik and Zach will now work closely with the teams from Ryder Cup Europe and the PGA of America respectively on details ranging from team rooms and uniforms to the mechanics of the qualification processes.
In respect of the latter point, Team USA’s campaign began at the PLAYERS Championship at the start of March, but Europe’s will not start until later this year. Our support team will therefore continue to work with Henrik on the finer points of our system, as we seek to regain the Ryder Cup and extend our unbeaten home record which, by the time we get to Marco Simone, will stretch back 30 years.
When we announced Henrik as our Captain on March 15, there were 564 days until the first tee shot in Rome. Together we will use every single one of those to provide the right environment and infrastructure to enable the 12 players who eventually make Henrik’s team to succeed at Marco Simone.
Henrik will bring plenty of experience into those discussions, having featured on five Ryder Cup teams as a player – three on the winning side – and last year as a Vice Captain.
Undoubtedly, he is hugely proud of the fact that he will become the first Swedish player to lead Europe in the Ryder Cup. So far, nine Swedes have worn the blue of Europe in the Ryder Cup, and they have contributed so many memorable moments between them, including Henrik’s putt to secure victory on his debut at The K Club in 2006 and Alex Noren’s huge putt across the final green to put the icing on the cake of our victory in Paris in 2018.
The famous image of Henrik donning a green wig during the celebrations in Ireland offered a glimpse into his renowned sense of humour, but make no mistake he is also a ferocious competitor as he showed in those Ryder Cup performances and in becoming the first Swedish male golfer to win a Major Championship at Royal Troon in 2016.
We know, following their victory at Whistling Straits, that Team USA will be a strong outfit once again in Rome and will start as favourites, but we also know that in Europe we relish the role of underdog and we have a deep pool of talent of our own, so we look forward to following the progress of some of our emerging names over the next 18 months.
As Captain, Henrik will be certainly be the most interested observer of all, but his role also extends beyond that. The Ryder Cup Captain is a figurehead and ambassador of Ryder Cup Europe and the European Tour group, and to that extent Henrik is also particularly well-qualified to represent our entire membership, not just those who qualify to play for Europe, given he served as part of our Tournament Committee for nearly 20 years and also lived in Dubai for more than a decade.
In addition to being a former resident, Henrik has enjoyed plenty of success in the Middle East too. He is a two-time winner of the Race to Dubai – now known as the DP World Tour Rankings – and he has also won our season ending DP World Tour Championship on two occasions, as well as having the Dubai Desert Classic and Commercial Bank Qatar Masters titles amongst his 11 Tour victories.
I am sure he will therefore have plenty of support as he embarks on one of the most prestigious roles in golf over the next 18 months.