Golf-Stenson not losing sleep over Ryder Cup future


  • Golf
  • Wednesday, 17 Apr 2024

FILE PHOTO: Aug 11, 2023; Bedminster, New Jersey, USA; Henrik Stenson plays his shot from the tenth tee during the first round of the LIV Golf Bedminster golf tournament at Trump National Bedminster. Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports/File Photo

(Reuters) - Sweden's Henrik Stenson is happy to sit back and wait for the DP World Tour to make a decision on his Ryder Cup future, the former British Open champion said on Tuesday.

Stenson was due to captain Team Europe at last year's Ryder Cup, but was stripped of the role after agreeing to sign up for the Saudi-backed LIV Golf circuit in 2022. He was replaced by Luke Donald, who led Team Europe to victory over the U.S. in Rome.

In recent months, there have been calls from top players, such as four-time major winner Rory McIlroy, for the DP World Tour to rewrite the rules on eligibility for the Ryder Cup so LIV players can qualify for the biennial team competition.

"There's decisions that need to be made in the next five or six months, from the DP World Tour or Ryder Cup Europe, in terms of eligibility," Stenson told reporters ahead of the 2024 Saudi Open.

"With Jon (Rahm) and Tyrrell (Hatton) and (Adrian) Meronk joining LIV as well, I'm sure they've got some figuring out to do on how to get all these things together.

"The rest of us, we just sit back. It's been an interesting time over the last two years. I'm not really spending my time or my sleep trying to figure out somebody else's strategy or conclusions."

In 2023, Team Europe were without stalwarts Sergio Garcia, Ian Poulter and Lee Westwood, who also joined the LIV circuit. The 12-man team featured a number of younger golfers, with six players under the age of 30.

Stenson, 48, said a shake-up had been long overdue for Team Europe, adding: "It would have changed anyway, with or without LIV.

"In terms of the playing squad, it comes to a point where the next generation needs to take over and carry on. That happened in Rome and the boys did a great job. That's just a natural progress."

GROWING THE GAME

Stenson returns to the Saudi Open this week after finishing second behind Thailand's Denwit Boriboonsub last year.

The Swede hailed the tournament as one of the signs of the growth of golf in Saudi Arabia, adding: "They are putting a lot of effort in building new venues, golf courses and resorts.

"The first part of the puzzle is to have the venues and then to get juniors and potential golf players through the door...

"When you have an international series and you have big names coming to play, they put the standard down and that's what the other guys are striving to beat."

Through the Public Investment Fund (PIF), Saudi Arabia has also invested heavily in sports like tennis, soccer, Formula One and boxing.

Critics have accused the oil-rich kingdom of "sportswashing" its human rights record, but Saudi Arabia denies accusations of human rights abuses and says it protects its national security through its laws.

(Reporting by Aadi Nair in Bengaluru; Editing by Toby Davis)

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