RIATH AL-SAMARRAI: Henrik Stenson’s lust for Saudi money has left the Ryder Cup in TATTERS… LIV series only wanted the sacked Europe captain to weaken one of the great institutions of a sport they are taking over with vindictive cunning
- Henrik Stenson has been stripped of one of the finest honours of his sport
- Sources state the deal for Stenson from LIV includes £30m in signing-on fees
- The Swede is a guy who was swindled out of £5m by Allen Stanford in 2009
- But the fallout of Stenson’s greed on the sport is the real crux of the matter
Time was that Henrik Stenson trusted a man and lost a fortune. A few years on, the stakeholders of the European Ryder Cup team trusted Stenson and now find themselves seeking a new captain.
What an astonishing mess this has become, with the confirmation of the inevitable on Wednesday that Stenson has been stripped of one of the finest honours of his sport because of his lust for Saudi Arabian money.
According to some sources, the whiff in his nostrils is worth upwards of £30million in signing-on fees, and if we are to be exceptionally generous — to the point of blunt ignorance — you would say Stenson of all people can make the grab for LIV cash, because he knows exactly how quickly a full account can empty — he is a guy who was swindled out of £5m by Allen Stanford in 2009.
Henrik Stenson has been stripped of one of golf’s finest honours in the Ryder Cup captaincy
Stenson’s financial reward to join Greg Norman (right) on the LIV tour is worth upwards of £30m in signing-on fees
But great golfers do not go penniless for long. Stenson won £7m in one Tour Championship payday in 2013. In 2016 he won the Open and another £1.2m.
The Ryder Cup captaincy? With a decent manager, captains can get around £4m with endorsements around the gig. They don’t go hungry, nor do their grandkids. They earn enough to leave necessity out of their choices.
And that takes us to the one just made and the fallout of his greed, because it is just as important to look at how it impacts the environment he has left behind, which really is the crux of this matter.
LIV did not want Stenson, the once-brilliant golfer who more recently has missed cuts in seven of nine majors. They wanted a Ryder Cup captain as a means of weakening one of the great institutions of a sport they are taking over with vindictive cunning.
LIV wanted a Ryder Cup captain as a means of weakening a great institution of the sport
Ryder Cup Europe knew the Saudis wanted Stenson when they gave him the job in March. They also knew Greg Norman would probably come back for him, which led to certain contractual protections and assurances — ultimately breached by his signing for LIV, which was confirmed on Wednesday evening.
They knew all that and the Saudis got Stenson anyway, because disruption and destruction are their modus operandi.
On that, they have so far shot the dirty business equivalent of a round of 59. Look what they have done to the European set-up: Lee Westwood, Ian Poulter, Sergio Garcia, Paul Casey and Bernd Wiesberger made up five of the 12 selected for the 2021 contest.
A good chunk of those were ageing towards pasture and highly unlikely to play in Italy next year, but at the very least a generation of captains has been wiped away from golf’s greatest show. A list you can extend to include other veterans including Graeme McDowell and Martin Kaymer.
Ian Poulter was one of the 12 golfers selected for the 2021 contest but unlikely to play next year
And what of the Americans? Dustin Johnson, Brooks Koepka and Bryson DeChambeau all played the last one. Take in the 2018 match and you will see Phil Mickelson and Patrick Reed. None of that cohort will play the next Ryder Cup and they will not ever captain the US, either, unless there is a major sea change.
The upshot is a tremendous sporting showpiece that is enormously lessened by golf’s war. For a time this LIV situation was viewed as a bitter row between tours, a trifling bit of sport politics mixed with a morality debate, and greeted with a general indifference from those who do not care where rich men go to get richer.
It likely will not change the Ryder Cup result in the immediate future — the US were always going to be massive favourites, irrespective of whether Europe are led by Stenson, Luke Donald or Thomas Bjorn.
But indisputably the contest is now established as a frenzied frontier in the wider squabble.
Bryson DeChambeau (R) played the last one and the 2018 match also saw Phil Mickelson (L)