Padraig Harrington slammed Henrik Stenson – his successor as Europe’s Ryder Cup captain – as the Swede was stripped of the job for joining LIV Golf.
Stenson’s captaincy was revoked as it’s understood he’s signed up to join the Saudi-backed rebel tour at their third event in New Jersey next week. The 2016 Open champion is believed to have signed a deal worth more than he was previously offered before he took the Ryder Cup post in March.
‘He was specifically asked not to do that’
A statement from Ryder Cup Europe.
— Ryder Cup Europe (@RyderCupEurope) July 20, 2022
Harrington, captain last year at Whistling Straits, was part of the committee that appointed Stenson, just 124 days ago. He has “no empathy” for the Swede.
“I certainly empathise with anybody who has made the decision to go to play a new tour, when the financial incentives are quite impressive,” said Harrington, at Gleneagles making his Senior Open debut. “But I do think it’s different in Henriks’ case.
“He signed a contract not to do that, he was specifically asked not to do that. So, no empathy there. He took the Ryder Cup job when LIV was in doubt. Now LIV is pretty much mainstream normalised, he’s jumped ship.”
“I’m not going to go through how we came about our decision (to appoint him). The Tour will tell you he had a signed contract. I suppose he could say if there had been more commitments asked.
“But it’s different. He wanted to take (the captaincy) on when LIV looked like it wasn’t going to happen.
“Now LIV is pretty close to mainstream, there’s certainly less risk in joining that tour, he’s gone over.
“I know it’s a financial decision and we’re all here to make money and things like that. Financially being the Ryder Cup captain in Europe is very lucrative, obviously it’s better to go over to LIV.
“And as much as it might not suit him now, sometimes when you sign up to something you have to accept you made a decision at the time and you’ve got to stick with it.
“He’s done what he said he wouldn’t do.”
Harrington said that the effect on the team would be minimal with 15 months still to go to the matches, and he expected the committee would reconvene to select again.
‘He clearly has his reasons’
BREAKING: Former Open Champion Henrik Stenson stripped of Team Europe Ryder Cup captaincy and expected to join LIV Golf series. pic.twitter.com/aHWZHFiCKV
— Sky Sports News (@SkySportsNews) July 20, 2022
Stenson’s other predecessors as captain playing at Gleneagles took a more sympathetic line.
Darren Clarke, also a member of the selection committee said it was “obviously disappointing that Henrik is no longer going to be Ryder Cup captain.
“He clearly has his reasons,” said the 2016 captain. “And good luck to him.
“As for the process to find who will replace him, I was part of the last committee. I’m not sure if they will have the same committee again so that we can take a look at candidates and go through the same process.”
2014 captain Paul McGinley was it was “incredibly disappointing” even if he understood Stenson’s decision.
“I feel a bond with Henrik through all the times we’ve played together in Ryder Cups and particularly when I captained him,” said the Irishman.
“He was an awesome player for me, one of the stars of the team, both on and off the course. I’m sure this was not an easy decision for him.
“But ultimately he has made that decision. I’m not going to come down on any of the guys who have gone to LIV. They’ve been offered huge amounts of money.
“For Henrik, it’s life-changing at this stage of his career. It’s unlikely he is ever going to earn that kind of money going forward.”
‘We all know it’s about the money’
EUROPE! EUROPE! 🇪🇺 pic.twitter.com/g0d49OWmFV
— Ryder Cup Europe (@RyderCupEurope) July 1, 2022
But McGinley has no truck with those joining LIV Golf claiming the new tour will revolutionalise golf.
“None of them in their heart of hearts think a team event, shot-gun start, rock-and-roll music on the range is what the game needs,” he said. “Especially with only 48 players to take care of. What about the rest of the game?
“We all know it’s about the money. It’s not about re-inventing golf, It doesn’t need to be re-invented. It’s about the redistribution of money within the game.
“I’m sure Henrik’s not going to come out of this looking good, but that is for others to judge, not me.”
Colin Montgomerie, a Ryder Cup stalwart and captain in 2010, also expressed his disappointment with Stenson’s decision.
“It’s a very, very sad day for European golf,” he said.