Henrik Stenson’s decision last week to join the Saudi rebel circuit and thus nearly force Ryder Cup Europe to strip him of the captain has been extremely controversial. Yet no one can deny that he was also outrageously profitable, with a remarkably quick yield.
After winning his debut LIV event here, Stenson, 46, added £ 3.3 million to the £ 40 million he received to break the contract he signed to lead his continent into next year’s match in Rome.
“I played like a captain,” Stenson said with a smirk. “I think there may have been a little more motivation this week. When we players have this, we can bring out the good things. I certainly did this this week.
“This has been a theme throughout my career: when I really want something I can dig deeper and make it happen. It’s about looking ahead, at least for me and I’m super proud of the attention I had. “
There was another £ 305,000, his second-team share here at Trump National, but, in relative terms, that’s such an insignificant amount that it hardly seems noteworthy (although that eight percent part of this payday in Camelot style is even more than Sean Crocker reaped for winning his first DP World Tour title on Sunday).
In the last fortnight, the Swede hasn’t doubled his career earnings yet, but he hasn’t been far from doing so and considering the fact that the 2016 Open champion won £ 10m in two months in 2013, having won both the PGA Tour that European Tour end-of-season bonus: it’s nothing short of ridiculous.
But then, in a sixth-place tie, Westwood took home nearly £ 1 million, after his team’s earnings alongside Stenson were also taken into account. At 49, the British veteran can’t believe his luck and surely no one should wonder why he’s playing LIV.
Stenson’s timing was certainly invaluable as he threw a 69 for a total of 11 minus to beat Americans Matthew Wolff and Dustin Johnson by two shots. “I played like a captain,” Stenson said with a smirk.
Luke Donald will be officially announced as Stenson’s replacement on Monday and the Englishman will certainly be questioned about his statement: “I will not do a Henrik”. But “making a Henrik” definitely has another level of meaning now. Would you come back on your word to close £ 45 million in 12 days?
As it stands, Stenson continues to feel sorry for the treatment he received from the Tour, which quickly removed him from the role when he revealed he was signing up for Greg Norman’s venture. Predictably, Stenson was supported by his fellow rebels, who agree that there was no reason why he should not have been allowed to carry on the work while he appeared in the separatist league.
Conveniently, this ignores his signature on that contract which essentially stipulated that he would not join the LIV. “It was a bitter and mean move,” said David Feherty, the former Ulster Ryder Cup player who is now a LIV analyst. “Henrik came here with something to prove.”
If it proved anything it is that there is still life in that old three-wood and it can still conjure up wonderful iron blows. This is his first title since December 2019 and although the ranking of the former world number 2 will remain rooted outside the top 170 – LIV events are still waiting to see if his events will be approved for world ranking status – there was so much consolation on hand that there was barely enough pockets in New Jersey in which to store it.
Stenson’s wire-to-wire comeback capped off another bizarre and hectic week for LIV, but the series is set to remain eerily quiet for a few weeks, as it takes more than a month off between its third and fourth events. .
Still, while the PGA Tour may be pleased with the calm of hostilities as it stages its £ 60m end-of-season playoffs, Greg Norman’s admonition is that in the last week of August, the exodus of big names will reach a new level of controversy.
“There are other things coming up,” Norman said. “To put it this way, we would not have published the announcement of the launch of the championship next year earlier if there was not a very clear indicator of how solid we feel about the players we will have next year.”
With big names like Hideki Matsuyama and Open Cam Champion Smith constantly rumored, as well as many other high profile competitors, there is a growing theory that there will be a series of heavyweights announced after the Tour Championship, which will see the FedEx winner come out with £ 15 million – on 28 August and then even after the Presidents Cup on 25 September.
The LIV campaign peaks on October 28-31 on another Trump course. Doral – the annual Miami leg of the PGA Tour from 1962 to 2016 – will host the climax of the £ 40 million team and after this experience there can certainly be no doubt that the former president will be in attendance.
The 76-year-old has been here during these 54 holes and has attracted larger crowds than the players themselves, with several hundred people gathering outside the clubhouse to get an occasional glimpse of Trump as he sang “another four years”. At times, this felt less like a sporting competition and more like a political demonstration.