The last two weeks had been very difficult for Sweden’s Henrik Stenson, when the European team for Ryder Cup had let him go after he had signed on for the LIV Golf tournament in Bedminster, NJ. The Ryder Cup captaincy had been a “dream job” for the 2016 Open Championship winner and the shock of the loss had clearly taken a toll on the usually stoic Swede, known as “The Iceman”.
After knocking in the final putt on the 18th at Trump National, he seemed relieved with the two-shot win over HY Flyer’s Matthew Wolf and 4 Aces’ Dustin Johnson. The 69-shot victory also came with a $4 million prize check.
He also collected $375,000 for his team’s win, the Majesticks. Throw in the reported $50 million signing bonus, and can you blame the guy for joining the increasingly popular tour? From the numbers that attended throughout the three days in Bedminster, the “louder” golf league is only growing in popularity.
But clearly, the termination from the Ryder Cup still stung. But with the confidence of the Bedminster win for Stenson, he couldn’t help getting in a good dig in the end: “I guess we can agree I played like a captain,” said the Swede on the LIV telecast, which was broadcast live on YouTube.
Not that the Gothenburg native is a confrontational guy. When prompted further by the broadcaster, Henrik Stenson simply said, “”It’s been a good first week.” That doesn’t mean he didn’t have a lot to prove.
He came to Bedminster with a heavy burden, with the sting of controversy and tension like a monkey on his back. Stenson wasn’t aligned with LIV Golf when Ryder Cup Europe announced him as captain in March. Once he had changed his mind about the new golf league, the European Tour swiftly let him go, stating that their partnership “[had] been brought to an end with immediate effect”.
Not having Henrik Stenson at the helm for Team Europe seems like a terrible loss. The selection of the Swedish golfer appeared serendipitous for the team, with Stenson having been the first Nordic male to win a major, voted European Tour Gofer of the Year twice, and the first Swedish golfer to achieve the Official World Golf Ranking (OWGR) of No.
2. After Stenson’s win, Ryder Cup Europe lost no time in announcing the captaincy of Luke Donald the Monday after LIV Bedminster’s final day.
“I’ve had a lot of support from friends and family over these last 10 days, and when the tough gets going and so on,” Stenson said in the post-match interview.
“That’s when friendships get put to the test”.
The loss for Europe is LIV Golf’s gain, however, and the 11-time European Tour winner played with determination from the outset of the team event, shooting a 64 on the first day.
“I didn’t have my best stuff today,” Stenson said after Day 2. “But I was focused and had a good attitude, and that’s what kept me in the ballgame,” he continued. “Pleased with the way I’ve kind of kept my head down and focused on business,” Stenson concluded on the day.
A man on a mission, he started out the final day with a 20-foot birdie that secured a strong three-shot lead. With players catching up to him, he maintained his cool composure and managed to secure another 8 foot birdie on the 14th hole.
A bogey on the next hole was the only mistake of the day, clocking in a par-five finish to secure his first win since the 2019 Hero World Challenge in the Bahamas a benefit tournament for the Tiger Woods Foundation, an unofficial PGA Tour event.
“I’m super-proud of the focus I managed to have this week,” said the 46-year-old Stenson.
“I’ve been working really hard to get my game back in shape, and it’s certainly going in the right direction as we know now”.
Holding the LIV Golf trophy, Henrik Stenson was able to revel in the validation.
“I think there might have been a little bit of extra motivation in there this week,” he said. “When we as players have that, I think we can bring out the good stuff. Yeah, I certainly did that this week”.
The next LIV Golf event will take place at The Oaks course, just outside of Boston, scheduled over Labor Day weekend.