LIV Golf is wreaking havoc on next year’s European Ryder Cup team.
Henrik Stenson, who was set to captain the team, is reportedly heading to LIV Golf soon.
Stenson is not the only European player who has made the jump and left their Ryder Cup future in jeopardy.
For a few days last week, the 150th Open Championship hosted by the Old Course at St. Andrews provided the golf world with a respite.
After months that had been defined by the growing split at the top tier of professional golf, caused by the emergence of the Saudi-backed, breakaway LIV Golf tour, the sport focused in on four days of compelling action at one of the most historic courses in the sport.
The break didn’t last long.
Just after Cam Smith finished out his first major championship victory, Jamie Weir of Sky Sports tweeted out that Swedish golfer Henrik Stenson was expected to be heading to LIV Golf.
Stenson was set to captain the 2023 European Ryder Cup team.
“The Ryder Cup is golf, and sport, at its very best,” Stenson said when he got the news that he would be leading the European side. “I got goosebumps every time I pulled on a European shirt as a player and that will be magnified in the role of captain. When I started out as a professional golfer, it was beyond my wildest dreams that, one day, I would follow in the footsteps of legends of the game such as Seve [Ballesteros] and be the European Ryder Cup Captain. But today proves that, sometimes, dreams do come true.”
Should his jump to LIV become official, that dream come true will likely vanish.
Stenson is far from the only Ryder Cup stalwart that LIV Golf has targeted.
With the likes of Sergio Garcia, Lee Westwood, Ian Poulter, Martin Kaymer, and Graeme McDowell all already playing LIV events, Team Europe has lost a decade’s worth of potential captains in the matter of a few months.
Stenson wasn’t the only one to make news about his potential future with Team Europe, as Sergio Garcia also teased the idea of quitting the DP World Tour for good, given his recent move to LIV.
“I am quite clear about what I am going to do with the European circuit. Probably leave it,” Garcia said at the Open on Sunday. “I want to play where I feel loved, and right now in the European Tour I am not feeling loved.
“I am very happy with what I have achieved, and I am going to try to enjoy it. I will play less and will spend more time at home. If I cannot play any more majors, that’s the way it is, but it is not something that bothers me a lot. I am feeling sad because of the Ryder Cup, but right now in the way I am playing I won’t be selected.”
While we’ll have to wait until 2023 to see how the Ryder Cup drama plays out, the Presidents’ Cup, which pits America’s best players against those from all around the world outside of Europe, could also see a shake up this fall.
During his press conference after his win at the Open, Cam Smith was asked about rumors that he was heading to LIV Golf in the future.
“I just won the British Open, and you’re asking about that,” Smith said. “I think that’s pretty not that good.”
Pressed for an answer, Smith said, “I don’t know, mate. My team around me worries about all that stuff. I’m here to win golf tournaments.”
While it’s far from a commitment to LIV Golf, it’s also pretty far from a denial.
Smith would undoubtedly be an important anchor for the 2022 Presidents’ Cup team, but a departure to LIV Golf would put his inclusion at risk.
Similarly, 2021 Masters champion Hideki Matsuyama, another sure bet for the Presidents’ Cup, has also been rumored as a potential target for LIV Golf.
With the Presidents’ Cup set to tee off in just eight weeks at Quail Hollow, it’s possible that both players could take part in the event before heading to LIV Golf later in the season or next year, should they indeed be making the jump.
With two weeks before the next LIV Golf event, to be held at Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, New Jersey, the golf world expects yet another round of chaotic movement.
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