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Henrik Stenson joins LIV Golf series after being removed as Europe’s Ryder Cup captain

Henrik Stenson has joined the LIV Golf series following his removal as Europe’s Ryder Cup captain.

The Swede, 46, was sacked by Ryder Cup Europe on Wednesday morning and later put out a statement confirming he was joining the controversial Saudi-backed breakaway event.

He said he disagreed with the decision to remove him as captain but that “for now it is a decision I accept”.

Stenson, winner of the Open in 2016, was appointed as captain in March.

“Unfortunately my decision to play in LIV events has triggered Ryder Cup Europe to communicate that it is not possible for me to continue in my role as Ryder Cup captain,” said Stenson.

“This is despite me making specific arrangements with LIV Golf, who have been supportive of my role as captain, to ensure I could fulfil the obligations of the captaincy.”

He added: “I am hugely disappointed to not be allowed to continue in my role but wish you all the best in your ongoing preparations.”

LIV Golf confirmed Stenson had joined the tour in a statement on Wednesday evening, along with American American duo Jason Kokrak and Charles Howell III.

They will make their first appearance in the third event of the series, the LIV Golf Invitational Bedminster, at Trump National Golf Club in New Jersey from July 29-31.

“Henrik Stenson adds yet another outstanding resume to LIV Golf’s global roster of elite players,” said two-time Open champion Greg Norman, CEO and commissioner of LIV Golf.

“His career performances spanning majors, season-long individual championships and international competitions have cemented him as a leader in today’s game.”

Earlier on Wednesday, Ryder Cup Europe said it was not possible for Stenson to continue in his role and his tenure would be brought to an end with “immediate effect”.

Ryder Cup Europe added that the decision had been made “in light of decisions made by Henrik in .

Former Ryder Cup captain Padraig Harrington says Stenson’s departure will not effect Europe’s preparations for next year’s event in Rome.

“We knew it was coming, in some ways, and we’ve been planning for it for the last 10 days,” Harrington, who will be part of the reconvened committee to choose a replacement, told Sky Sports.

“It gives us plenty of time, in terms of 15 months to get our ducks in a line.

“We are already talking about when we are meeting to elect the next captain. It is really not going to interfere with the Ryder Cup in any shape or form.

“I do wish he had waited 15 months. Everyone has to make the right decision financially for themselves.”

Stenson had been linked with the new LIV series before being announced as 2023 Ryder Cup captain, saying at the time: “There has been a lot of rumours and speculation in the media over a long period of time.

“And, like I told the panel and Ryder Cup Europe, I’m fully committed to this, to be the captain, to deliver the best result I can with the team. It’s been focused on that – and full steam ahead towards Rome.

“There’s a captains’ agreement that every captain signs and I’ve signed one of those as well. I think actions speak louder than words.”

Denmark’s Thomas Bjorn and England’s Luke Donald are among the favourites to replace Stenson for next year’s Ryder Cup at Italy’s Marco Simone Golf Club.

The PGA Tour has suspended a number of its members who have played in the opening two LIV Golf events.

Former Masters champion Hideki Matsuyama has also been linked with the series, while Australian Cameron Smith did not rule out joining LIV Golf when speaking to journalists after his Open victory at St Andrews on Sunday.

Paul McGinley, who captained Europe to Ryder Cup victory in 2014, said Stenson is “not going to come out of this looking good”.

“He’s doing it for money,” he added. “I’m sure this was not an easy decision for him but, ultimately, he has made that decision. It’s something that disappoints me, but I can understand.

“I’m not going to come down on any of the guys who have gone to LIV. They’ve been offered huge amounts of money.

“For Henrik, it’s life-changing at this stage of his career. It’s unlikely he is ever going to earn that kind of money going forward. But is he doing it to revolutionise a game that needs to be changed? No.

“I had a great

Meanwhile, 2010 Ryder Cup captain Colin Montgomerie said: “It is a very sad day for European golf.”

‘Stenson has undoubtedly left Europe in the lurch’ – Analysis

Iain Carter, BBC golf correspondent

Why would LIV want to splash out millions on the world’s 171st-ranked player who has not posted a top-10 finish in a full field event for almost a year?

The answer, of course, was Stenson’s status as Ryder Cup captain. It made him a prime target and LIV’s recruitment of the veteran Swede can only be interpreted as a direct attack on the DP World Tour.

It further destabilises the running of elite men’s golf.

There will be fury among members of the European Tour that Stenson has reneged on his pledge of loyalty when he signed a contract only last March to lead Europe in the next Ryder Cup.

LIV has already ripped away an anticipated succession of European captains – Lee Westwood, Ian Poulter, Sergio Garcia, Graeme McDowell and now Stenson. All are Ryder Cup legends who have been swayed by Saudi millions.

Stenson has undoubtedly left Europe in the lurch and the 2016 Open champion’s previously stellar image will be severely tarnished in many observers’ eyes.

Europe now have to find a new skipper, with Thomas Bjorn, Luke Donald and Paul Lawrie the most likely candidates. Whoever takes over will be part of a Ryder Cup that is threatened with the prospect of being severely compromised.

LIV, meanwhile, gathers momentum. Stenson is one of three new recruits, with much speculation that 2021 Masters winner Hideki Matsuyama, Asian golf’s biggest name, will also soon be among them.

Open champion Cameron Smith has done nothing to dampen speculation that he will defect but that may happen after the FedEx and Presidents Cups later this year.

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