Henrik Stenson stripped of Ryder Cup captaincy as LIV Golf Rift expands


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Saudi Arabia’s controversial attempts to buy its way into professional golf sparked a new outbreak in the sport on Wednesday when it was announced that next year’s European Ryder Cup team would be waiving their captain Henrik Stenson of Sweden just ahead of his expected move to the new LIV series. Golf funded by Saudi Arabia.

Stenson, whose LIV Golf affiliation was announced Wednesday afternoon, is the latest player drawn by the wealth offered by a series that has upended the once polite world of professional golf since hosting its first tournament earlier this summer.

By guaranteeing players more money than they could earn in the biggest tours and tournaments that make up the traditional golf calendar, the LIV series has created an ugly rift in the world of golf. Wrestling has divided golf into two camps: a traditionalist group that includes some of the titans of the sport, including champions like Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy, and a growing rebel group that includes Phil Mickelson, Dustin Johnson, Bryson DeChambeau and. now Stenson having won his only major championship at the 2016 UK Open.

“In light of the decisions made by Henrik regarding 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 continue to serve as captain,” said the European Ryder Cup team. statement. The announcement did not specifically mention Stenson’s expected move to LIV.

The Ryder Cup, a hugely popular event pitting a team of US players against a team from Europe, will take place at the Marco Simone Golf and Country Club in Rome next September. European officials said Stenson’s dismissal would come “with immediate effect” and that they would name a new captain shortly.

In a statement about his joining LIV, Stenson said he had an agreement with the series that would allow him to continue as Ryder Cup captain and disagreed with his removal.

“It goes without saying that I remain ready to support the Ryder Cup in Europe in every possible way and I really hope that at some point in the future I will again have the opportunity to represent the European team in some capacity.” He wrote.

The LIV Golf series has made waves across the golf spectrum, with major tours in the US and Europe forbidding players from participating in LIV events. The dispute sparked a legal battle in the United States, where the Justice Department announced earlier this month that it was investigating the PGA Tour for anti-competitive behavior in its dealings with an upstart competitor.

While its events set sparks in golf to upend tradition and the rigor of how the game is played – LIV tournaments have no cuts, millions of dollars in guaranteed prize money and are played over 54 holes rather than the usual 72 – the series also has become a lightning rod for human rights activists who accuse Saudi Arabia of using sports to clean up its reputation.

Earlier this week, relatives of those killed on September 11, 2001, wrote to former President Donald J. Trump urging him to cancel an event later this month at the Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, New Jersey. The event is one of two to be held on fields owned by Trump; The final of the LIV Golf series in October is scheduled for the Trump National Doral in Florida.

“We just can’t understand how you could agree to accept money from the Saudi Arabian Golf League to run their tournament on your golf course, and do it in the shadow of ground zero in New Jersey, which lost over 700 residents in a terrorist attack.” the family members wrote in their letter, noting that even Trump had blamed Saudi Arabia for the 9/11 attacks in the past.

“It is incomprehensible to us that a former president of the United States would abandon our loved ones for personal financial gain,” Trump said in the letter. “We hope you will review your business relationship with the Saudi Golf League and agree to meet with us.”

Brett Eagleson, president of 9/11 Justice, the group that sent the letter, said Sunday he had not received a response.

On Tuesday, however, Trump spoke out about the LIV Golf feud on his Truth Social website. In a short post, he criticized the PGA Tour and told players to “take the money now”.

“All those golfers who remain ‘loyal’ to the very disloyal PGA in all its various forms will pay a heavy price when the inevitable MERGER with the LIV occurs,” Trump tweeted. He said that the merger between LIV Golf and the PGA Tour was “inevitable”.

“If you don’t take the money now,” Trump wrote, “you get nothing after the merger happens and only say how smart the original signers were.”

The LIV scheme, backed by Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund, has billions of dollars at its disposal. He has already used his wealth to poach star names for attractive fees. Mickelson, a six-time big winner, reportedly received $200 million for his entry, and DeChambeau recently suggested on a podcast that his deal with the series is worth over $125 million. The series is helmed by Australian Greg Norman, whose central role in attracting talent has led him to become an outcast in the golf establishment. For example, he was banned from the British Open this year despite having won the tournament in the past.

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