Henrik Stenson said on Wednesday he is signing up for the rebel Saudi-backed LIV Golf Series, just hours after he was axed as Europe’s Ryder Cup captain.
“After much consideration, I have decided to join several of my fellow professionals and play in the LIV invitational series,” the 46-year-old Swede said in a statement.
Stenson said he was “hugely disappointed” not to be able to maintain his role as captain for the next Ryder Cup to be played in Italy next year.
“It is a shame to witness the significant uncertainty surrounding the Ryder Cup and who will be eligible to play, etc. I hope a resolution between the tours and its members is reached soon,” he added.
The move to strip Stenson of the captaincy will deepen the rifts in the sport, with a growing number of big stars defecting to the cash-rich new circuit in defiance of the established tours.
Ryder Cup Europe said in a statement that Stenson’s tenure as skipper for the biennial competition against the United States in Rome had been brought to an end “with immediate effect”.
“In light of decisions made by Henrik in relation to his personal circumstances, it has become clear that he will not be able to fulfil certain contractual obligations to Ryder Cup Europe,” it said.
The statement added that confirmation of a new captain for the 2023 tournament would be made in “due course”.
Stenson has now joined fellow Ryder Cup stars Lee Westwood, Ian Poulter and Sergio Garcia in jumping ship to the LIV Series.
The US team next year looks likely to be without players of the calibre of Dustin Johnson, Brooks Koepka, Patrick Reed and Bryson DeChambeau, who have all been hit with indefinite bans by the PGA Tour and will therefore be ineligible to play.
Stenson, the 2016 Open champion, reached a career-high of No 2 in the world but has since slumped to 171 in the rankings.
“Clearly a part of my decision to play in LIV golf events has been commercially driven but the format, schedule and calibre of players were also significant factors,” said Stenson.
© Agence France-Presse