Henrik Stenson is set to have to choose between Ryder Cup captaincy or the reported Saudi Golf league according to a report in The Daily Telegraph. The Swede is favourite for the job in Rome after Lee Westwood ruled himself out of the running in November, but DP World Tour bosses will not allow him to take up the role if he joins the rumoured Saudi-backed golf league.
The 45-year-old, a five-time Ryder Cupper and 2021 vice captain, is one of many big names in the upcoming Saudi International field, where players have received up to seven-figure appearance fees, and it has been reported that the Swede is one of the players who have had a $30m approach to appear in the rumoured league.
Last October, the Asian Tour penned a $200million deal with LIV Golf Investments, a start-up company with Greg Norman as its CEO. With the Saudi Public Investment Fund also being the majority shareholder of LGI, speculation continues to grow that Norman will be at the centre of a new Saudi-backed golf league.
If Stenson were to join a Saudi-backed golf league he would ultimately forfeit his chance of becoming Europe’s next captain, with both Luke Donald and Robert Karlsson also in the running for the job. The captaincy decision should have been decided this week by a panel that includes Europe’s last three captains, although the Telegraph understands that the announcement has been delayed by a month.
“It is a heck of a decision,” an anonymous member of Stenson’s team told The Telegraph. “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.”
Former World No.1 Donald has played in four Ryder Cup teams, winning all four, and has twice been a vice captain. Robert Karlsson has played in two Ryder Cups and has also been a vice captain on two occasions. It remains to be seen as to who gets the nod.