Henrik Stenson 'A Little Bit Baffled' At Majors' Stance On LIV Golfers

The Swede was speaking exclusively to Golf Monthly about Major exemption rules and why he believes they should be slightly altered given the current landscape in men's pro golf

Henrik Stenson with the Claret Jug after winning the 2016 Open
(Image credit: Getty Images)

LIV Golfer and 2016 Open champion Henrik Stenson has admitted he is "a little bit baffled" that all four men's Majors have not fought harder to ensure all of the best players in the world are at their tournaments.

While much of the conversation in men's pro golf is about trying to reunify the top of the sport - ensuring the very best are competing against each other at least four times a season - some players feel they are being unfairly left out due to poor world-ranking positions as a result of playing in the LIV Golf League which does not offer the relevant points.

Talor Gooch previously stated his displeasure at being omitted from The Masters due to his lowly OWGR position and said he would not try to qualify for the US Open following a lack of special invite for the 2023 LIV Golf Individual champion. Meanwhile, Jon Rahm called on the four key tournaments to consider an exemption for the "left out" LIV golfer.

And Stenson, who qualifies for the 2024 Open at Royal Troon in July as a past champion, feels Gooch and his peers certainly have a point when it comes to feeling frustrated at their snub.

Speaking exclusively to Golf Monthly, Stenson said: “I am a little bit baffled by the stance the Majors have taken. I imagine the Majors all want to have the best players in the world in their tournaments, so not to make that happen is interesting."

Henrik Stenson wearing a white sweater and cap

(Image credit: Getty Images)

The Swede - who was supposed to lead Team Europe into the most-recent Ryder Cup in Rome before being stripped of the post once he had joined LIV - feels given the four Majors are supposed to be disinterested parties when it comes to golf's politics, they should do what they can to attract whoever they want into their events.

Stenson continued: “The Majors should not take up someone else’s fight. With LIV golfers not earning world ranking points, you can build a strong case that there should be spots in the Majors for best LIV players who are not already exempt. Whether that is three or five spots, that can be debated, but there should definitely be a pathway into those events.

"There are some really strong golfers on LIV who are having a much harder time getting into the Majors without world ranking points, even though they are definitely playing to the highest standard.

"Some people say the LIV golfers made their choice, but for me the question is whether the Majors want to have the best players in their fields.”

While Stenson is certainly not the only one to stand on this side of the fence, there are many others who have pointed to cases like Joaquin Niemann. The Chilean teed it up in several Asian Tour and DP World Tour events around the turn of the new year in a bid to qualify outright for The Masters.

Joaquin Niemann before The Masters

Joaquin Niemann

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Although he fell short from an OWGR point of view, Niemann's Australian Open victory booked his spot at Royal Troon and ultimately paved the way for a place at Augusta courtesy of a special invite from the tournament's committee. Niemann also later confirmed he had been handed an exemption into this week's PGA Championship at Valhalla.

Stenson will return to Scotland in July off the back of a T13 finish at Royal Liverpool in 2023 and hoping for a shock repeat of his 2016 victory.

Jonny Leighfield
Staff Writer

Jonny Leighfield is our Staff News Writer who joined Golf Monthly just in time for the 2023 Solheim Cup and Ryder Cup. He graduated from the University of Brighton with a degree in Sport Journalism in 2017 and spent almost five years as the sole sports reporter at his local newspaper. An improving golfer who still classes himself as ‘one of the worst players on the Golf Monthly team’, Jonny enjoys playing as much as he can and is hoping to reach his Handicap goal of 18 at some stage. He attended both the 150th and 151st Opens and is keen to make it an annual pilgrimage.