Henrik Stenson sparks global furore amid LIV Golf 'disgrace'

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Pictured here, Henrik Stenson salutes fans during a golf tournament in 2022.
Henrik Stenson has been stripped of Europe's Ryder Cup captaincy after joining the LIV Golf series. Pic: Getty

Henrik Stenson has been condemned across the golfing world after confirming his defection to the LIV Golf series, in a move that saw him stripped of Europe's Ryder Cup captaincy.

Stenson - who previously insisted that he was committed to the Ryder Cup cause in the midst of LIV's overtures - was removed as Europe's captain hours before announcing that he was joining Greg Norman's Saudi-backed rebel series.

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The 2016 British Open champion helped Europe to victory in three of his five Ryder Cup appearances as a player, including the last home tournament at Le Golf National in 2018.

Stenson, 46, was also vice-captain to Padraig Harrington at Whistling Straits last year and had been tasked with regaining the trophy following Europe's record 19-9 defeat to the United States team in Wisconsin.

"In light of decisions made by Henrik in relation to his personal circumstances, it has become clear he will not be able to fulfil certain contractual obligations," Ryder Cup Europe said in a statement on Wednesday.

"And it is therefore not possible for him to continue in the role of captain.

"Confirmation of the new 2023 European Ryder Cup Captain will be made in due course."

Stenson later confirmed on Twitter that he would play in the third LIV Golf tournament of the season from July 29-31 in New Jersey at Trump National Golf Club Bedminster.

"Like many of my fellow professionals, my hope is that my decision to play in LIV events will not restrict me from playing on any tour," Stenson said.

The Swede claimed was stripped of the Ryder Cup captaincy despite making specific arrangements with LIV Golf, who he said had been supportive of his role and willing to ensure that he could fulfil his obligations.

"While I disagree with this decision... it's a decision I accept," Stenson added.

"I have huge respect and admiration for the Ryder Cup and those individuals behind it who I know are doing their utmost to act in the best interests of the historic event."

Stenson is the latest big name to join the controversial circuit, with LIV Golf announcing the 46-year-old former major champion as one of three new recruits on Wednesday along with Jason Kokrak and Charles Howell III.

Seen here, Sweden's Henrik Stenson teeing off on the 3rd hole during the opening round of the 2022 British Open.
Sweden's Henrik Stenson tees off on the 3rd hole during the opening round of the 2022 British Open. Pic: Getty

Bankrolled by Saudi Arabia's Public Investment Fund, LIV Golf held its first event in London last month which was won by South Africa's Charl Schwartzel, who pocketed the $US4 million ($5.8 million) prize, the biggest pay cheque in golf history.

Critics of the new series say it amounts to 'sportswashing' by a nation trying to improve its reputation in light of its history of human rights abuses.

Harrington did not mince his words when discussing Henrik Stenson's decision to forfeit his Ryder Cup captaincy by joining LIV Golf, insisting he has "no empathy" for the Swede.

The Irishman argued that Stenson should have honoured his Ryder Cup commitment, while saying he understands why the average professional golfer might make the jump.

Henrik Stenson move under fire from golfing world

"I certainly empathise with anybody that makes the decisions that they have made in terms of going to play a new tour; the financial incentives are quite impressive," he said.

"I do think it's different in Henrik's case, yes. He signed a contract not to do that and was specifically asked not to do that. I have no empathy there.

"No, he took the Ryder Cup job when LIV was in doubt, and now that LIV is pretty much mainstream normalised, he's jumped ship."

The golfing world has also reacted angrily to Stenson's move, with many labelling it a "disgraceful" money grab.

with AAP

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