Henrik Stenson reopens wounds of Ryder Cup row after winning on LIV Golf debut
Former European golf No1 Henrik Stenson took a swipe at his sacking as Ryder Cup captain after winning his first event on the breakaway LIV Golf series last night.
Stenson was removed as skipper of Team Europe for next year’s biennial match with the USA after confirming his decision to join the Saudi-backed, big-money circuit last month.
But the Swede played as if he had a point to prove on his LIV Golf debut at Trump National Bedminster, in New Jersey, winning by two shots from Dustin Johnson and Matthew Wolff.
Stenson also saw his team, Majesticks, finish second in the collective scoring standings, meaning he pocketed a total of $4.4m (£3.6m) for three days’ work.
“I guess we can agree I played like a captain,” said the 46-year-old, who had gone five years without winning a title.
“It’s been a good first week, nice to be here with the guys and get a feel for it. It’s been a busy 10 days and I’m extremely proud to focus the way I did having not been in contention for a number of years.”
Stenson’s agreement to join LIV Golf, knowing that he would lose the Ryder Cup captaincy, deepened divisions between the new series and the sport’s two main circuits, the PGA Tour and DP World Tour.
Both of the main tours have attempted to stop their members from taking part in the new series, fearing that it could harm the appeal and damage the commercial value of their events.
Stenson is just the latest high-profile player to sign up to LIV Golf, which has attracted stars with signing-on fees in excess of $100m and offers purses of $25m at every tournament.
The circuit, fronted by Australian former world No1 Greg Norman and bankrolled by Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund, is seeking to disrupt golf and appeal to younger audiences.
Its next step will be the launch of the LIV Golf League, a 14-event competition comprised of 12 permanent franchises led and part-owned by star captains such as ex-world No1 Johnson.
Norman has said he believes the LIV Golf League franchises can soar in value like those in cricket’s Indian Premier League, balancing out the immense early investment and potentially returning profits.