Henrik Stenson is the 171st-ranked player in the world and hasn’t been consistently competitive on the PGA Tour since 2018. The Swede has missed the cut in eight of his last 14 major championships with just one Top 10 showing in that stretch.
Given the résumé of the 46-year-old, Stenson certainly isn’t one of LIV Golf’s flashiest signings, at least not on paper. You could even question why LIV Golf would pursue Stenson and could argue that the reported $40 million it took to sign him could have been spent better elsewhere.
LIV Golf didn’t go out and sign Stenson to a substantially over-priced contract because of his abilities on the golf course, it signed him to send a message to the golf world as a whole, and it succeeded.
Just two months ago Stenson was named the captain of Team Europe for the 2023 Ryder Cup in Italy.
The fact that LIV Golf could poach Stenson from that post, albeit with a large sum of money, is by far and away the biggest punch to the golf world as we’ve known it.
Stenson himself sent a message himself by signing with LIV Golf. The Swede knew that if he joined LIV Golf then he would be stripped of his captaincy, which is exactly what happened on Wednesday morning.
A statement from Ryder Cup Europe.
— Ryder Cup Europe (@RyderCupEurope) July 20, 2022
We’ve never seen this before given the fact that no other Ryder Cup captain in history has been faced with the choice of staying on as captain or joining a rival circuit. Nevertheless, being named captain of a Ryder Cup team is a monumental achievement for any golfer, and one of the most honorable positions to land in golf.
Simply leaving the captain’s chair is an unprecedented move, and one every former Ryder Cup captain wouldn’t have even imagined making.
Stenson signing with LIV Golf, knowing he’d be removed as captain, is a giant middle finger to the Ryder Cup, tradition, and the world of golf we’ve known all these years.
All in all, this was a political move made by LIV Golf. This was LIV CEO Greg Norman collectively telling the PGA Tour, DP World Tour, and all four of golf’s governing bodies ‘look what I can do.’
While the ongoing battles in the golf world inevitably end up being dealt with in a court of law, LIV Golf is going to continue to move at its own pace and attempt to pull off other unprecedented moves just like poaching away a Ryder Cup captain.
Follow Mark Harris on Twitter @ItIsMarkHarris