Henrik Stenson was stripped of the captaincy of the European Ryder Cup on Wednesday, with the Swede known to be about to take part in the Saudi Arabia-sponsored rebel LIV Golf series. Following negotiations with European Ryder Cup officials, the decision has been made to sack the 46-year-old as team captain for next year’s event in Italy. The move will deepen rifts in the sport, with more and more big stars looking to cash-rich new circuits despite established tours.
Ryder Cup Europe said in a statement that Stenson’s tenure as captain for the biennial competition with the United States in Rome ended “with immediate effect”.
“Based on Henrik’s decisions regarding his personal circumstances, it is clear that he will not be able to fulfill certain contractual obligations with the European Ryder Cup,” it said.
The statement added that confirmation of a new captain for the 2023 tournament would be done within the “deadline”. Stenson is said to be about to join Ryder Cup stars like Lee Westwood, Ian Poulter and Sergio Garcia in jumping ship to the LIV series.
Next year’s US team looks set to be without players of the caliber of Dustin Johnson, Brooks Koepka, Patrick Reed and Bryson DeChambeau, who have all been banned indefinitely by the PGA Tour and therefore will not qualify. competition.
Stenson, the 2016 British Open champion, peaked at world number two during his career but has since dropped to number 171 in the rankings.
His appointment as Team Europe captain in March seems to have ended speculation about his involvement in the Saudi Arabia-backed separatist series as he insists he is fully committed associated with this role.
But after missing out at the British Open last week, Stenson admitted his upcoming schedule is “undecided”.
His anticipated defection to the LIV series will be a new headache for current tours, which have been powerless to prevent big-name players like Phil Mickelson and Johnson from joining the circuit. rebellion.
European players must be members of the DP World Tour, formerly known as the European Tour, to be eligible to compete for Team Europe in the Ryder Cup.
The tour last month banned members from playing in the UK’s inaugural LIV event for three tournaments and gave them heavy fines.
Donald Trump on Monday urged golfers to “get the money” and sign a contract with LIV Golf. The former US president, who is hosting LIV events at two of his golf courses this year, said in a post on his Truth social media that players should not hesitate to give up the US PGA Tour, which he considers “disloyal”. LIV Golf, led by the great Australian Greg Norman, is funded by the Public Investment Fund of Saudi Arabia.
Human Rights groups have criticized the joint venture, saying it is being used to enhance Saudi Arabia’s international reputation, a phenomenon labeled “sport washing”.
The third 54-hole LIV event of the season will begin at Trump National Golf Club Bedminster, New Jersey, on July 29. The course for the tournament includes former British world number three Paul Casey, who will be compete with 10 experts. Champions.
Former Masters champion Hideki Matsuyama has been tipped to move to LIV Golf, with three more signings to be named in the coming days. Europe will aim to win back the Ryder Cup from the United States when the two teams meet at Marco Simone Golf and Country Club from September 29 next year.
Potential replacement captains include Thomas Bjorn, who led Europe to French championships in 2018, and England’s Luke Donald.
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