Henrik Stenson has been removed as Europe’s Ryder Cup captain with immediate effect.
The 46-year-old Swede is understood to be on the verge of signing up for the new controversial Saudi-backed breakaway LIV Golf Series.
And, after discussions with Ryder Cup Europe officials, the decision was made to replace him as captain.
“It is not possible for him to continue in the role of captain,” a Ryder Cup Europe statement said.
“His tenure as captain has been brought to an end with immediate effect.”
Ryder Cup Europe added that the decision had been made “in light of decisions made by Henrik in relation to his personal circumstances” and that it had “become clear” he would “not be able to fulfil certain contractual obligations to Ryder Cup Europe”.
Stenson had been linked with the new LIV series before being announced as 2023 Ryder Cup captain, saying at the time: “There has been a lot of rumours and speculation in the media over a long period of time.
“And, like I told the panel and Ryder Cup Europe, I’m fully committed to this, to be the captain, to deliver the best result I can with the team. It’s been focused on that – and full steam ahead towards Rome.
“There’s a captains’ agreement that every captain signs and I’ve signed one of those as well. I think actions speak louder than words.”
Denmark’s Thomas Bjorn and England’s Luke Donald are among the favourites to replace Stenson for next year’s Ryder Cup at Italy’s Marco Simone Golf Club.
The PGA Tour has suspended a number of its members who have played in the opening two LIV Golf events.
Former Masters champion Hideki Matsuyama could be set to join the series, with three more top players to be named in the coming days.
Former captain Paul McGinley said Stenson is “not going to come of of this looking good” if his expected move to LIV Golf is confirmed.
“He’s doing it for money,” he said. “I’m sure this was not an easy decision for him. But, ultimately, he has made that decision. It’s something that disappoints me. But I can understand.
“I’m not going to come down on any of the guys who have gone to LIV. They’ve been offered huge amounts of money.
“For Henrik, it’s life-changing at this stage of his career. It’s unlikely he is ever going to earn that kind of money going forward. But is he doing it to revolutionise a game that needs to be changed? No.
“I had a great relationship with him as a captain and a player over the years. So I’m not going to slam him for making a judgment call. Everyone is entitled to their own view of things. But this is incredibly disappointing for the Ryder Cup. There is no doubt about that.”
Meanwhile, 2010 Ryder Cup captain Colin Montgomerie said: “It is a very sad day for European golf.”
‘Stenson has undoubtedly left Europe in the lurch’ – Analysis
Iain Carter, BBC golf correspondent
Why would LIV want to splash out millions on the world’s 171st-ranked player who has not posted a top-10 finish in a full field event for almost a year?
The answer, of course, was Stenson’s status as Ryder Cup captain. It made him a prime target and LIV’s recruitment of the veteran Swede can only be interpreted as a direct attack on the DP World Tour.
It further destabilises the running of elite men’s golf.
There will be fury among members of the European Tour that Stenson has reneged on his pledge of loyalty when he signed a contract only last March to lead Europe in the next Ryder Cup.
LIV has already ripped away an anticipated succession of European captains – Lee Westwood, Ian Poulter, Sergio Garcia, Graeme McDowell and now Stenson. All Ryder Cup legends who have been swayed by Saudi millions.
Stenson has undoubtedly left Europe in the lurch and the 2016 Open champion’s previously stellar image will be severely tarnished in many observers’ eyes.
Europe now have to find a new skipper, with Thomas Bjorn, Luke Donald and Paul Lawrie the most likely candidates. Whoever takes over will be part of a Ryder Cup that is threatened with being severely compromised.
LIV, meanwhile, gather momentum. Stenson is one of three expected new recruits with much speculation that 2021 Masters winner Hideki Matsuyama, Asian golf’s biggest name, will also be among them.
Open champion Cameron Smith has done nothing to dampen speculation that he will defect but that may happen after the FedEX and Presidents Cups later this year.