Saudi Arabia’s contentious effort to purchase its way into skilled golf created a latest flash point in the game on Wednesday with the announcement that Europe’s team for next 12 months’s Ryder Cup was dropping its captain, Henrik Stenson of Sweden, just ahead of his expected move to the brand new Saudi-financed LIV Golf series.
Stenson, who won his only major championship on the 2016 British Open, is about to turn out to be the most recent player lured by the riches being offered by the LIV Golf series, which has upended the once polite world of skilled golf since hosting its first event earlier this summer.
By guaranteeing players more cash than they may earn in the largest tours and tournaments that make up the normal golf calendar, the LIV series has created an unsightly fissure within the golf world. The fight has split golf into two camps: a gaggle of traditionalists that features a number of the sport’s titans, including champions like Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy, and a growing band of rebels, a gaggle that features Phil Mickelson, Dustin Johnson, Bryson DeChambeau and, soon, Stenson.
“In light of choices made by Henrik in relation to his personal circumstances, it has turn out to be clear that he won’t give you the chance to satisfy certain contractual obligations to Ryder Cup Europe that he had committed to prior to his announcement as Captain on Tuesday March 15, 2022, and it’s subsequently impossible for him to proceed within the role of Captain,” Europe’s Ryder Cup team said in a press release. The announcement didn’t specifically reference Stenson’s expected defection to LIV.
The Ryder Cup, a wildly popular event that pits a team of United States players against a European squad, is about to be played on the Marco Simone Golf and Country Club in Rome next September. European officials said Stenson’s ouster would happen “with immediate effect,” and that they might name a latest captain soon.
A Quick Guide to the LIV Golf Series
Card 1 of 6
A latest series. The launch of recent Saudi-financed LIV Golf series has resurfaced longstanding questions on athletes’ moral obligations and their desire to compete and earn money. Here’s what to know:
What’s LIV Golf? The series is an upstart skilled golf circuit bankrolled by Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund. Its organizers hope to position it as a player-power-focused alternative to the PGA Tour, which has been the very best level of professional golf for nearly a century.
Why is the brand new series controversial? The event has created sparks inside golf for upending the traditions and strictures of how the sport is played. It has also turn out to be a lightning rod for human rights campaigners who accuse Saudi Arabia of using sports to launder its status.
Who’s playing it? A lot of the largest names in golf, comparable to Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy, have stayed away from LIV Golf. But several big names and former major champions, including Phil Mickelson, Dustin Johnson and Sergio García, joined. Henrik Stenson of Sweden, who was purported to lead Europe’s team on the 2023 Ryder Cup, was removed as captain after announcing his move to the series.
What’s attracting the players? The LIV Golf events are the richest tournaments in golf history. The primary tournament’s total purse was $25 million, and the winner’s share was $4 million. The last-place finisher at each event was guaranteed $120,000. That’s on top of the looks fees and nine-figure signing-on payouts some players have accepted.
The LIV Golf series has began fires across the golfing spectrum, with the major tours in the US and Europe barring any players who compete in LIV events. That dispute has sparked a legal fight in the US, where the Justice Department earlier this month announced that it was investigating the PGA Tour for anticompetitive behavior in its dealings with the upstart competition.
While the event has created sparks inside golf for upending the traditions and strictures of how the sport is played — LIV tournaments feature no cuts, thousands and thousands of dollars in guaranteed prize money and are played over 54 holes somewhat than the standard 72 — the series also has turn out to be a lightning rod for human rights campaigners who accuse Saudi Arabia of using sports to launder its status.
Earlier this week, relatives of individuals killed on Sept. 11 wrote to former President Donald J. Trump, urging him to cancel an event set to be held later this month at Trump National Golf Club Bedminster in Latest Jersey. The event is considered one of two set to be played at Trump-owned courses; the LIV Golf series finale in October can also be scheduled Trump National Doral in Florida.
“We simply cannot understand how you might agree to simply accept money from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s golf league to host their tournament at your golf course, and to accomplish that within the shadows of ground zero in Latest Jersey, which lost over 700 residents in the course of the attacks,” the members of the family wrote of their letter, which noted that even Mr. Trump had previously blamed Saudi Arabia for the 9/11 attacks.
“It is meaningless to us that a former president of the US would forged our family members aside for private financial gain,” the letter to Mr. Trump continued. “We hope you’ll reconsider what you are promoting relationship with the Saudi golf league and can comply with meet with us.”
Brett Eagleson, the president of the group that sent the letter, 9/11 Justice, said Sunday that he had not received a response.
Mr. Trump, though, weighed in on the LIV Golf feud on his social media site, Truth Social, on Tuesday. In a transient post, he criticized the PGA Tour and told players to “take the cash now.”
“All of those golfers that remain ‘loyal’ to the very disloyal PGA, in all of its different forms, can pay an enormous price when the inevitable MERGER with LIV comes,” Mr. Trump wrote. He said a merger between LIV Golf and the PGA Tour was “inevitable.”
“For those who don’t take the cash now,” Mr. Trump wrote, “you’re going to get nothing after the merger takes place, and only say how smart the unique signees were.”
The LIV circuit, backed by Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund, has billions of dollars at its disposal. It already has used its wealth to poach star names with eye-watering signing on fees. Mickelson, a six-time major winner, reportedly received $200 million to hitch, and DeChambeau recently suggested on a podcast that his take care of the series was price greater than $125 million. The series is being led by the Australian Greg Norman, whose central role in luring talent has led him to becoming a pariah figure throughout the golf establishment. He was barred from this 12 months’s edition of the British Open, for instance, despite being a past winner of the tournament.