Henrik Stenson comes out swinging (!) in defence of LIV Golf ahead of The Open

Henrik Stenson conceded he likely wasn't good enough to qualify for the Masters as he defended LIV Golf players before the 151st Open Championship.

Ben Smith's picture
Mon, 17 Jul 2023
Henrik Stenson comes out swinging (!) in defence of LIV Golf ahead of The Open

Former Open champion Henrik Stenson claims LIV Golf players have proven themselves 'over and over' in the last six months. 

Stenson, 47, is one of 16 rival league players who will be teeing it up at Royal Liverpool this week. 

He arrived at Hoylake in good form, finishing sixth at Centurion Club a few weeks ago where reigning Open champion Cameron Smith triumphed. 

But as has been pointed out by critics of the breakaway tour, there are only 47 other players to beat in the field. 

Related: Why did LIV Golf's Ian Poulter skip Open qualifying? "Not easy to play 36 holes"

It is a criticism that has been lobbed at the likes of Stenson and others constantly over the last 12 months. 

The Swede, who was stripped of the European Ryder Cup captaincy over his decision to bolt from the established tours, thinks the argument that LIV players not being competitive in the majors are absolute rubbish at this point. 

In comments to Ewan Murray of the Guardian on the eve of the final major of the year, he pointed out that 'a big part of the PGA Tour has not been at the top in majors either'. 

Stenson said:

"I don't know if there is a small group that still has that thought but I think the players on LIV have proven over and over in the last six months that they are competitive
"I'm not saying 48 LIV guys have been at the top in majors but a big part of the PGA Tour has not been at the top in majors, either. LIV players qualifying for majors, making cuts and being at the top of those tournaments … if people want to keep going on another theme, that's up to them.
"People said: 'Oh Brooks didn't win the Masters because it was four rounds.' Well, Phil Mickelson finished [joint] second because of a fourth-round 65. So which way are you going to have it?" 

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Stenson had to watch the Masters on television this year and he revealed it did hurt a bit. 

"I'm not sure I would have qualified for the Masters anyway," he said. 

But he feels his game is good enough to contend this week, telling the publication he will has been watching highlights of Tiger Woods' emotional win here all those years ago after the death of his father Earl. 

Stenson once again addressed his decision to join LIV. He stressed even a big part of his decision was of course related to money, but said his schedule is now reduced to nine months of the year compared to 11 when he had dual membership of the European DP World Tour and PGA Tour. 

He continued: 

"When LIV started, if you mentioned anything else you were being told: 'You are lying, it is only about money.' 
"The season I am looking at now is nine months. I have a three-month break. That is a huge benefit at this age. Nobody wanted to listen to that but it is part of it.
"For those of us who have been dual Tour members for so many years, you basically had an 11-month season. I was keen to get going again at the start of this season.
"Like anything in life, if you do something for many, many years it just feels the same. We played in many great tournaments but there were some where you were staying in a hotel room next to the highway, cars whizzing by and you are eating takeaway three nights a week while playing an average golf course.
"I am not playing the violin – we have all been lucky and on an amazing journey – but there is a point where other things in life are more important."

LIV Golf players participating in the Open Championship at the Royal Liverpool:

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