‘It Is a Heck of a Decision’: Henrik Stenson Caught at a Crossroads

Published 01/19/2022, 9:00 AM EST

When we finally thought that the fluster surrounding Saudi International was over, Henrik Stenson’s case became public. Apparently, the 45-year-old has been offered an ultimatum; to choose between captaincy of the 2023 European Ryder Cup team or being a part of the Saudi-backed golf league.

For the next Ryder Cup that is being played in Rome, Stenson is one of the favorites for the European team’s captain. This comes specially after Lee Westwood, who decided he still has the fire burning within him, chose to make a try for the team as a player.

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The others, who were vice-captains in 2021, are Luke Donald and Robert Karlsson, other strong contenders for the position. However, as news about the Saudi League looms large, the authorities have asked Stenson to choose between the two.

Why is Saudi International such a big deal?

In case you haven’t heard yet, a Greg Norman-led venture called LIV Golf Investments recently joined hands with the Asian Tour. However, their sudden popularity poses a threat to the European and PGA Tour and hence, the top-ranked players from the tours are being discouraged from participating in the event. Furthermore, they are advised against joining the Saudi-backed league, that might arise anytime in the future.

Apr 23, 2021; Avondale, Louisiana, USA; Henrik Stenson shakes hands with Jon Rahm after the 9th hole of the second round of the Zurich Classic of New Orleans golf tournament. Mandatory Credit: Stephen Lew-USA TODAY Sports

Initially, there was a threat against the players, with them facing potential bans and suspensions if they paired up with the Saudi-backed golf league. However, gradually, the bodies had to concede, owing to immense pressure from the golfers. However, clearly, their apprehension persists, which is why Henrik Stenson is being persuaded against joining the field in Saudi Arabia.

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Henrik Stenson may not join the Saudi International

Jeddah’s Royal Greens Golf and Country Club will host the event that was initially on the European Tour’s calendar. The star-studded and stout field comprises Bryson DeChambeau, Dustin Johnson, Sergio Garcia, Phil Mickelson, and Xander Schauffele, amongst many more. Stenson faces a risk if he plays the Saudi International which would mean that he’d also sign up for the new league.

A member of Stenson’s team shed light on the situation and said, “It is a heck of a decision. It’s complicated not only by the huge amounts on offer. This [Ryder Cup captaincy] could be his one and only chance with so many big Europe figures about to come into the picture for future matches. But then, it’s far from guaranteed he will get it this time anyway, with Luke obviously having a strong shout and the case for Karlsson seemingly strengthening by the day.”

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The Swede, however, a 5-time player in the Ryder Cup, may choose the legacy of the biennial cup over the money offered by the Saudi backed Asian Tour. Nevertheless, do you think he should choose to succeed Padraig Harrington in Italy or join the race for the boosted purse of $5 million?

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Ishita Bhargava

392 articles

Ishita Bhargava is a Golf content writer at Essentially Sports. Currently pursuing her undergraduate degree from the Shri Ram College of Commerce, she has a keen interest in sports and fitness. When not playing or watching a sports event, Ishita can be seen spending time with her pets or binge-watching.

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