In what appears to be a declaration of war, Saudi Golf League team Greg Norman has signed Ryder Cup captain Henrik Stenson. He announced Wednesday that he will be joining the new tour, although he has expressed his desire to continue playing the events of the DP World Tour. He’ll obviously come out as Europe’s captain for next year – when he was elected to lead, he signed a contract that prevents him from playing in any rounds other than the PGA and DP World, which he no longer honors today.
I’m certainly not the first to point this out and I won’t be the last, but Stenson isn’t exactly a big grab. It doesn’t exactly attract viewers. He’s 46 and he last won one major championship in 2016, so this all seems like poaching for the Ryder Cup captain in an effort to severely disrupt existing leagues and structures. If the Saudis have been playing their version of Latifah so far, it’s done. They seem to want to undermine the PGA and DP World Tours as well as the state of the sport itself, and they are using the Stenson as a tool to do so in a power game against one of the most important events in golf.
The European Ryder Cup team has already lost Sergio Garcia, Ian Poulter and Lee Westwood in the Saudi Golf League. In a (very) lengthy statement that Stinson put out today, he admitted that the move was, in part, “commercially driven”, which is a nice way of saying they gave him more money than he’s worth, but added to everyone this nonsense about game development, the new look and all the good talking points. . He also said he was confident “LIV Golf…will be a force for good” – how that could be so far unclear, as from the start this was a very visible attempt to wash down human sport in the country. Rights register.
He will play in the next tournament in Bedminster next weekend, and Europe is now in the process of looking for a new captain – preferably one who won’t jump ship this time.