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18 Jul, 2022 17:00

Golf ace to lose major honor amid links to Saudi breakaway tour – media

Henrik Stenson is to be stripped of the Ryder Cup captaincy, according to reports
Golf ace to lose major honor amid links to Saudi breakaway tour – media

Sweden's Henrik Stenson looks set to miss out on what would be one of the clear highlights of his professional career amid reports he will be stripped of his captaincy of Europe's Ryder Cup team due to his decision to join the Saudi-backed LIV Golf Invitational Series.

Stenson, winner of The British Open in 2016, was due to lead the European team against their American counterparts at next September's Ryder Cup event - an honor often considered to be among biggest achievements a player can have in their career. 

He has been linked to the new breakaway group which has already tempted several players away from the PGA Tour with the promise of hugely inflated purses for events; though players who do so are said to be 'blacklisted' from the more prestigious, yet less lucrative PGA competitions. 

Speaking to the media after failing to make the cut on Friday at The Open in St. Andrews, the 46-year-old said that he was “undecided” on his future - but now seems certain to become the latest rebel to join the new golfing infrastructure, according to Sky Sports.

Stenson, who has appeared at the Ryder Cup on five occasions, was announced as team captain in March with Zach Johnson set to lead the American team at the event in Italy next year.

But now it seems that the Swede is the latest high profile defector, and will join up with the likes of Phil Mickelson, Dustin Johnson, Bryson DeChambeau, Rickie Fowler, Lee Westwood and Sergio Garcia (among several others) in the new but highly controversial invitational series.

US captain Zach Johnson has also confirmed that any American players who join up with LIV Golf will be unavailable for selection for the American team.

Meanwhile, Stenson could also be joined by 2022 Open winner Cameron Smith who refused to rule out joining up with the other PGA rebels shortly after winning last weekend at St. Andrews, where he pipped Rory McIlroy to the crown.

I don't know, mate,” the Australian said when pressed on the issue.

My team worries about all that stuff. I'm here to win golf tournaments. I just won The Open, and you're asking about that. I think that's not good.”

Players who take part in LIV Golf events are automatically banned from the PGA Tour, who also confirmed that ranking points will not be awarded for LIV tournaments - meaning players involved will likely plummet down the world rankings. 

Trump National Golf Club Bedminster in New Jersey will play host to the next LIV Golf Invitational Series event which begins on July 29. 

Critics of the new Saudi-funded group claim that it is yet another example of the country's desire to 'sportswash' their reputation on the international stage, and comes after Saudi Arabia has also played host to several other large scale sports events in boxing and Formula 1. 

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