Henrik Stenson joins LIV Golf: 2023 Ryder Cup captain stripped after defection to Saudi-backed league

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Henrik Stenson joins LIV Golf: 2023 Ryder Cup captain stripped after defection to Saudi-backed league

Another major championship winner has made the leap into the LIV Golf Invitational Series and has already suffered dire consequences in the process. The Ryder Cup Europe confirmed on Wednesday that Henrik Stenson has been removed as captain for the 2023 Ryder Cup in Rome. The 46-year-old is the youngest European to switch allegiances, joining former Ryder Cup teammates Sergio Garcia, Ian Poulter, Lee Westwood, Paul Casey and Graeme McDowell with the PGA Tour and DP World Tour rivals.

“Given the choices Henrik has made regarding his personal circumstances, it has become clear that he has committed to certain contractual obligations to the Ryder Cup Europe prior to his announcement as captain on Tuesday 15th March, cannot fulfill , 2022 and it is therefore not possible for him to continue in the role of captain,” the Ryder Cup Europe said in a statement.

Stenson responded later in the day, confirming his move to LIV and expressing his disappointment at the Ryder Cup Europe’s decision to remove him as captain of the European squad in 2023.

“Unfortunately, as many of you have already seen, my decision to play at LIV events has resulted in Ryder Cup Europe communicating that it is not possible for me to continue in my role as Ryder Cup Captain,” Stenson wrote . “This is despite having made special arrangements with LIV Golf who have supported my role as captain to ensure I can fulfill captain’s obligations. While I do not agree with this decision, for now it is a decision I accept. I have great respect and admiration for the Ryder Cup and the people behind it who I know do their utmost to act in the best interests of the historic event. I would like to thank everyone I have worked with so far in preparing for Rome in 2023. I am very disappointed not to be able to continue in my role, but I wish you all the best in your ongoing preparations.

“It is a shame to witness the considerable uncertainty surrounding the Ryder Cup, who will be eligible to play etc. I sincerely hope that a solution will be reached between the tours and their members soon and that the Ryder Cup will act as a repair mechanism between them various golf bodies and their members can act.”

All of this obviously contradicts what Stenson said earlier this year when asked if breakaway circuits were on his agenda later in 2022. A lot can (and has) changed in a short time. Here’s what Stenson said in March, shortly after receiving the captaincy.

“There’s been a lot of speculation back and forth and like I said, I’m wholeheartedly behind the captaincy, the Ryder Cup Europe and the job at hand,” said Stenson. “So we will continue to work on that and I will do everything in my power to deliver a successful team in Rome.”

He also said the Ryder Cup was the experience of a lifetime for him.

“The Ryder Cup is golf and sport at its finest. I got goosebumps whenever I put on a European shirt as a player and that’s amplified in the captaincy role,” said Stenson. “Although it’s great for me personally, it’s also great for my country and all the players from Sweden who have played for Europe with such distinction since Joakim Haeggman became first in 1993.”

Stenson added: “When I started out as a professional golfer, it was beyond my wildest dreams that one day I would follow in the footsteps of legends of the game like Seve and become captain of the European Ryder Cup. But today proves that, sometimes dreams do come true.”

The 2016 Open champion had since expanded the lead space by confirming Thomas Bjorn and Edoardo Molinari as vice-captains. With Stenson absent, Bjorn is likely to be the next man as the Dane led the 2018 European Ryder Cup team to victory at Le Golf National in Paris, France, and could spearhead their efforts to reclaim the trophy in Rome. Luke Donald is also said to be in the running.

Stenson’s decision comes as a bit of a surprise as not only is he giving up his Ryder Cup captaincy, but also potential playing privileges on the PGA Tour and maybe even the DP World Tour – where he co-hosts the Scandinavian Mixed with Anika Sorenstam.

For LIV Golf, however, this is a coup. Stenson’s game has waned in recent years, but continuing to beat all the lions of past European Ryder Cups not only gives him some marketing points, but also decimates the DP World Tour (formerly European Tour), which owns the European side of the Ryder Cup .

At the moment, the dollar amount Stenson will receive from LIV Golf is unknown. Financially, it makes perfect sense for the Swede as he was one of many victims to lose a significant chunk of his fortune in Allen Stanford’s Ponzi scheme. At the time he described the loss as “a large chunk” of his life savings, it was later revealed that Stenson had lost approximately $8 million.

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