Henrik Stenson opens up on Ryder Cup sacking days before showdown in Rome

Axed Ryder Cup captain Henrik Stenson, now a LIV Golf player, says he remains hopeful he will be able to lead Team Europe one day.

Henrik Stenson opens up on Ryder Cup sacking days before showdown in Rome
Henrik Stenson opens up on Ryder Cup sacking days before showdown in Rome

Henrik Stenson says 'out of respect' for the Ryder Cup he won't offer his unfiltered opinion on what transpired when he was axed as the European skipper.

But the LIV Golf pro did offer some insight into his current thinking just days before the 44th Cup in an interview with SI's Bob Harig. 

Stenson was selected to lead Team Europe in Rome last March at a time where there was wild speculation about a 'Saudi-backed golf league' intent on upsetting the status quo by pinching the game's biggest stars for mind-boggling fees. 

Four months later he was stripped of the role. A short statement was made by Ryder Cup Europe HQ which put the Swede on full blast. 

He was removed, the statement read, 'in light of personal decisions made'. It went on: "It has become clear that he will not fulfil certain contractual obligations for Ryder Cup Europe". 

Luke Donald was chosen to lead the troops and the Englishman has also opened up this week on the awkward situation that saw him replace the 2016 Open champion. 

Stenson and Ryder Cup Europe clearly disagree on the official version of events. 

Asked how he felt during that period when he was stripped of the captaincy, Stenson explained to SI:

"Don't get me wrong, I knew there were a lot of things going on at the time. I've decided not to dig too deep into this especially now right before the Ryder Cup.
"If the are some things to be said and spoken about, I feel like there will be a better time and place out of respect for the team and the Ryder Cup itself. We will let that play out."

You might remember Stenson won on his first LIV Golf start, in Bedminster, New Jersey. No sooner did he putt out to seal the win did he blast angrily: "I think we can all agree I played like a captain."

Stenson could only laugh as it was suggested to him by some keyboard warriors that his victory was pre-planned. 

He explained of that week: "There was some fuelled energy and focus,. Mentally it's hard to compare to winning at Troon or winning the Players Championship or the FedEx Cup. But I have to say that singling out that mental performance that week, it is probably one of my top three or top four mental performance."

He added: "I hadn't been playing very good before. It's quite amusing when you start reading the odd comment. It's a conspiracy that everyone lets you win your first week out. And you get to double digits on a a tough setup.

"When Bedminster is set up like that it's a good test of golf. It's a course that suited me very well. I managed to channel my focus with that drive and in a fairly short space got my game together that week and it's almost like you go out there and lot of people want you to fail. Do you love to win or hate to lose? There was channelled energy that certainly pulled me in that direction."

Stenson has a 10-7-2 Ryder Cup record and has been part of three winning teams. 

Maybe one day he will have the captaincy again. But for now he won't waste energy worrying about it, he said. 

"That's not my decision to make," he said. "I don't want to spend too much time speculating on decisions I have no influence on. You can only be hopeful in that. You hope things come together a little bit better than it has been over the last couple of years."

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