Henrik Stenson Chooses Ryder Cup Immortality Over Saudi League Riches

Does Henrik Stenson's Ryder Cup appointment end future Saudi-backed Super League involvement?

Henrik Stenson poses for Team Europe after Ryder Cup captaincy announcement
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Henrik Stenson has been announced as the European Ryder Cup captain for Rome 2023, becoming the first Swede to hold the position in Ryder Cup history. 

Stenson had been one of the leading candidates but his potential appointment was brought into question by his rumoured involvement with the Saudi-backed Super League. 

It was reported back in January that Stenson was asked to choose between the Ryder Cup captaincy or the rumoured Saudi-backed golf league after Lee Westwood ruled himself out of the running for the job. This announcement all but confirms Stenson's commitment to the PGA and DP World Tours so should end any speculation of further participation in a Saudi-backed Super League, for the time being anyway.

Luke Donald looked to be favourite for the job after Stenson's $30m offer was reported, but it seems he has chosen the Ryder Cup captaincy over the riches of the Saudi Super League - which may have been dented by the recent comments from Phil Mickelson to his biographer Alan Shipnuck that resulted in a public apology from Lefty and the six-time Major winner announcing he was taking a break from the game.

The Swede's loyalty to the European (now DP World) Tour is significant because he lost an estimated $11m in a fraud scandal more than a decade ago after Allen Stanford's property investment scheme was exposed as a sham. Stanford was convicted in 2012 and is currently serving a 110-year federal prison service having been convicted on charges that his investment company was the vehicle for a massive ponzi scheme. It must have been a very tough decision for the Ice Man, if his reported $30m offer was accurate.

The Swedish star recouped his financial loss when he won the $10million FedEx Cup in 2013, but the financial scars left by that episode have not been fully healed, as he revealed during an interview with Golf Digest following his Tour Championship triumph.

He said: “I never met Stanford and it’s safe to say I won’t be visiting him in prison. If I did come face-to-face with him, then what I’d do to the guy could get me arrested also. I didn’t have all my eggs in his basket, but I had a lot of eggs in there and it hurt. It was a tough experience, but life has a way of setting things right.

“After I won the Tour Championship and the FedEx Cup, I actually flew from Atlanta to my home in Orlando having collected more than $11million. And when I was on the plane I worked out that I was flying over the federal prison in Florida where he’ll likely be for the rest of his life."

Speaking of his Ryder Cup captaincy appointment, Stenson did not hold back his admiration for the history of the tournament. He said: "I am absolutely thrilled and delighted to be the European Ryder Cup Captain – it is a huge honour and I was humbled to get the call confirming the news. I would like to thank the selection panel for believing in me and will say to them, and every European golf fan, that I will do everything in my power and leave no stone unturned in the quest to get the Ryder Cup back in European hands.
“The Ryder Cup is golf, and sport, at its very best. I got goosebumps every time I pulled on a European shirt as a player and that will be magnified in the role of Captain. While it is great for me personally, it is also great for my country and all the players from Sweden who have played for Europe with such distinction since Joakim Haeggman became the first in 1993.
“When I started out as a professional golfer, it was beyond my wildest dreams that, one day, I would follow in the footsteps of legends of the game such as Seve and be the European Ryder Cup Captain. But today proves that, sometimes, dreams do come true.”

In the battle between golfing prestige and money, on this occasion, it looks like golf won. 

James Hibbitt

James joined Golf Monthly having previously written for other digital outlets. He is obsessed with all areas of the game – from tournament golf, to history, equipment, technique and travel. He is also an avid collector of memorabilia; with items from the likes of Bobby Jones, Tiger Woods, Francis Ouimet, Arnold Palmer, Lee Trevino, Adam Scott and Ernie Els. As well as writing for Golf Monthly, James’ golfing highlight is fist bumping Phil Mickelson on his way to winning the Open Championship at Muirfield in 2013. James grew up on the east coast of England and is the third generation of his golfing family. He now resides in Leeds and is a member of Cobble Hall Golf Club with a handicap index of 1.7. His favourite films are The Legend of Bagger Vance and Tin Cup.