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


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Another major championship winner has moved on to the LIV Golf Invitational Series and has already suffered heavy consequences in the process. Ryder Cup Europe confirmed on Wednesday that Henrik Stenson has been suspended as captain of the 2023 Ryder Cup in Rome. The 46-year-old has become the latest European to change his mind and join former Ryder Cup teammates Sergio Garcia, Ian Poulter, Lee Westwood, Paul Casey and Graham McDowell with PGA Tour and DP World Tour rivals.

“In light of the decisions made by Henrik due to his personal circumstances, it has become clear that he will not be able to fulfill certain contractual obligations to Ryder Cup Europe that he had assumed prior to his announcement as captain on Tuesday 15 March. 2022 and therefore he cannot remain as captain,” Ryder Cup Europe said in a statement.

Later that day, Stenson responded by confirming his move to the LIV and expressing disappointment at Ryder Cup Europe’s decision to remove him from the European team captaincy in 2023.

“As many of you have seen, unfortunately my decision to compete in the LIVs has prompted Ryder Cup Europe to announce that I am unable to continue my role as Ryder Cup captain,” Stenson wrote. “This is despite the fact that I have made certain arrangements with LIV Golf that have supported my role as captain so that I can carry out my duties as captain. While I do not agree with this decision, for the moment it is the decision I make. I have great respect and admiration for the Ryder Cup and the people I know are doing everything they can to act on behalf of this historic event. I want to thank everyone I have worked with so far to prepare for Rome 2023. I am very disappointed that I am not allowed to continue in my role but wish you all the best in your current preparations.

“It is unfortunate to see the significant uncertainty surrounding the Ryder Cup, who will be eligible to play etc. I sincerely hope that a decision between the tours and its participants will be reached soon and that the Ryder Cup can serve as a mechanism for repair among the various bodies golf courses and their members.

All of this clearly runs counter to what Stenson said earlier this year when asked if there were any splinter chains on his agenda at the end of 2022. A lot can (and has) changed in a short amount of time. Here’s what Stenson said in March, immediately after receiving the captaincy.

“There has been a lot of speculation back and forth and as I said, I am fully committed to the captain, the Ryder Cup in Europe and the job,” Stenson said. “So we’re going to keep doing that and I’m going to do everything in my power to deliver a winning team in Rome.”

He also said that the Ryder Cup was a lifelong event for him.

“The Ryder Cup is golf and sport at its best. I get goosebumps every time I put on a European jersey as a player, and it will intensify as a captain,” Stenson said. “While it’s great for me personally, it’s also good for my country and all the players from Sweden who have played for Europe with such distinction since Joakim Haggman took over in 1993.”

Stenson added: “When I started out as a professional golfer, I never dreamed that one day I would follow in the footsteps of golfing legends like Sev and become a European Ryder Cup captain. But today proves that sometimes dreams do come true.”

Since then, the 2016 Open champion has joined the ranks of the leaders, confirming Thomas Bjorn and Edoardo Molinari as vice-captains. With Stenson out, Bjorn is likely to be the next person as the Dane led the European Ryder Cup team to victory at the 2018 Le Golf National in Paris, France and could lead their effort to bring back the cup in Rome. Rumor has it that Luke Donald is also running in the election.

Stenson’s decision came as a bit of a surprise, as he not only forgoes his Ryder Cup captaincy, but also potential playing perks on the PGA Tour and possibly even the DP World Tour, where he co-hosts the Scandinavian mix with Anika Sorenstam.

However, this is a coup for the LIV Golf. Stenson’s game has waned in recent years, but continuing to weed out all the lions of past European Ryder Cups gives him not only some marketing edge, but also destroys the DP World Tour (formerly the European Tour), which owns the European portion of the Ryder Cup.

The dollar amount that Stenson will receive from LIV Golf is unknown at this time. From a financial standpoint, this makes some sense for the Swede, as he was one of the many victims who lost a large portion of his fortune in the Allen Stanford Ponzi scheme. At the time he described the loss as “most” of his savings, it was later revealed that Stenson had lost about $8 million.

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