Stenson joins Saudi tour, stripped of Ryder Cup captaincy

Sweden's Henrik Stenson plays a shot on the 13th hole of the British Open championship golf course on the Old Course in St. Andrews, Scotland, Wednesday July 13, 2022. The Open Championship returns home to golf July 14-17, 2022 , to celebrate the 150th running of the sport's oldest championship, which dates back to 1860 and was first contested at St. Andrews in 1873. (AP Photo/Peter Morrison)

Sweden’s Henrik Stenson plays a shot on the 13th hole of the British Open championship golf course on the Old Course in St. Andrews, Scotland, Wednesday July 13, 2022. The Open Championship returns home to golf July 14-17, 2022 , to celebrate the 150th running of the sport’s oldest championship, which dates back to 1860 and was first contested at St. Andrews in 1873. (AP Photo/Peter Morrison)

PA

Henrik Stenson’s Ryder Cup captaincy lasted four months.

Ryder Cup Europe removed Stenson as captain for the 2023 matches – still 14 months away from being played in Italy – when the Swede decided to choose guaranteed money from the rival Saudi-funded league instead than the Ryder Cup.

Both the European Tour and the PGA Tour have suspended players who have signed up for LIV Golf, which is handing out massive signing bonuses to accompany its $25 million prize fund in eight tournaments that feature 54 holes and no cups.

The third LIV Golf event will take place next week at Trump National in New Jersey. Sky Sports was among the first to announce Stenson was quitting the European tour for the rival league, a move he confirmed on Wednesday.

It meant giving up a captaincy he accepted four months ago when he said: “I am fully committed to my role as captain and working hard to get the result we want in Roma.”

The European tour did not mention LIV Golf in its short statement earlier Wednesday after meeting the Swedish star, only that Stenson’s captaincy “has ended with immediate effect”.

“In light of the decisions Henrik has made in relation to his personal circumstances, it has become clear that he will not be able to fulfill certain contractual obligations to Ryder Cup Europe to which he committed prior to his announcement as captain,” the statement read. .

Stenson announced on Twitter that he plans to play the LIV Golf event next week. He said he had made arrangements with LIV Golf to fulfill his role as Ryder Cup captain and was “extremely disappointed” to be fired.

“Although I do not agree with this decision, for now it is a decision that I accept,” he wrote.

Stenson is the world No. 171 and five years ago won a tournament against more than 20 players. He fits the profile of many of the players Greg Norman has signed for his LIV Golf series – great champions whose best days are behind them.

In addition to Stenson, LIV Golf announced that world No. 36 Jason Kokrak and Charles Howell III, both three-time PGA Tour winners, will play the event in Bedminster, New Jersey.

Stenson missed the cut last week at the British Open, while Kokrak finished tied for 42nd. Stenson played a practice round on Sunday before the Open with Phil Mickelson, considered a key recruiter for Greg Norman and his LIV Golf.

The Daily Telegraph reported that Stenson was in line for around $50 million in signing bonuses. It is estimated that most contracts are for three to four years.

Already disrupting major golf circuits, the latest decision has a big impact on the Ryder Cup, one of golf’s most famous biannual events. European players who have already joined include Sergio Garcia, Lee Westwood, Ian Poulter and Graeme McDowell, although none are likely to make the next squad given their current form or age.

“I sincerely hope that a resolution between the Tours and its members will soon be reached and that the Ryder Cup can serve as a redress mechanism between the various golf bodies and their members,” Stenson said in the statement.

The Americans are coming off a record rout at Whistling Straits last year. The Ryder Cup then returns to Marco Simone outside Rome in September 2023.

Luke Donald was also considered European captain when the job was given to Stenson. Robert Karlsson was another option and it would be surprising if Europe went to Thomas Bjorn, the winning captain in France in 2018 and the loudest voice in Europe.

Stenson was seen as the ideal candidate for the Saudi-funded league at the end of last year, but he had to weigh the money against his legacy as Ryder Cup captain. He chooses first one, then the other.

___

More AP Golf: https://apnews.com/hub/golf and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

Naomi C. Amerson