Henrik Stenson insists he hasn't faced any backlash on his first DP World Tour start since being stripped of the Ryder Cup captaincy in acrimonious circumstances.
The Swede was unveiled as the man tasked with leading Team Europe in the 2023 edition of the biennial dust-up in Rome, only to be relieved of his duties after less than four months in charge following his decision to join LIV Golf.
Stenson, the 2016 Champion Golfer of the Year, was criticised for going back on assurances he gave to Keith Pelley and was subsequently replaced by Luke Donald.
LIV Golf has sparked no shortage of controversy, but Stenson insists he has experienced no animosity at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, his first DP World Tour event since the Scottish Open last year.
"The way I look at it is obviously when all of us went and played the PGA Tour back in the day we shouldn't have been welcomed back either then," Stenson told Sky's Tim Barter. "There's multiple tours in the world, and as far as I'm concerned, as long as you fulfil your criteria and earn the right to be there, you should be able to play in as many tournaments as you like.
"But I haven't had anyone step up to me personally and vent those thoughts. I haven't played since the Scottish Open last summer. It's been a while so there are a lot of guys I haven't seen for a long, long time. It's been good to catch up with some long-time friends. It's been a great week so far."
After joining LIV, Stenson won on his debut at Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster and appeared to aim a dig at the DP World Tour in the aftermath, saying: "I played like a captain."
And pushed on whether he has any regrets about giving up the Ryder Cup captaincy, he added: "No, I made my decision and obviously Ryder Cup Europe made theirs. It's not great but it is what it is. The Ryder Cup has been a huge part of my career and I wish Luke all the best with the team going forward and we'll see where all end up in the long-run with this."
Despite the controversy around his appearance in the year's first Rolex Series event, Stenson was able to overcome jet lag and his inexperience on the Yas Links layout to post an impressive four-under 68. Coincidentally, that leaves him four of the pace of Donald, the man who replaced him as the Team Europe skipper.
A lifelong golf fan, Andy graduated in 2019 with a degree in Sports Journalism and got his first role in the industry as the Instruction Editor for National Club Golfer. From there, he went on to enjoy a spell freelancing for Stats Perform producing football reports, and then for RacingNews365 covering Formula 1. However, he couldn't turn down the opportunity to get back into the sport he grew up watching and playing and now covers a mixture of equipment, instruction and news for Golf Monthly's website and print title.
Andy took up the game at the age of seven and even harboured ambitions of a career in the professional ranks for a spell. That didn’t pan out, but he still enjoys his weekend golf at Royal Troon and holds a scratch handicap. As a side note, he's made five holes-in-one and could quite possibly be Retief Goosen’s biggest fan.
As well as the above, some of Andy's work has featured on websites such as goal.com, dailyrecord.co.uk, and theopen.com.
What's in Andy's bag?
Driver: Callaway Mavrik Sub-Zero (9°)
3-wood: TaylorMade M1 (15°)
Driving iron: Titleist U500 (17°)
Irons: Callaway Apex Pro '19 (4-PW)
Wedges: Titleist Vokey SM9 (50°, 54° and 58°)
Putter: Titleist Scotty Cameron Newport 2.5
Ball: Titleist Pro V1
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