cash grab | 

Padraig Harrington’s attack on Henrik Stenson highlights depth of golf’s civil war

The Swede is signing up for the Saudi-backed breakaway LIV Golf Series/

Pádraig Harrington speaks at a media conference prior to The Senior Open Presented by Rolex at The King's Course at Gleneagles. Photo: Mark Runnacles/Getty Images© Getty Images

Carl MarkhamPA Media

Former Ryder Cup captain Padraig Harrington insists Henrik Stenson’s departure will not affect preparations for next year’s event in Rome.

The Swede is signing up for the Saudi-backed breakaway LIV Golf Series and, after discussions with Ryder Cup Europe officials, the decision was made to effectively sack him “in light of decisions made in relation to his personal circumstances”.

Harrington was in charge of Europe’s team for the defeat at Whistling Straits last September and was one of five people on the selection committee which appointed Stenson.

“We knew it was coming, in some ways, and we’ve been planning for it for the last 10 days,” Harrington, who will be part of the reconvened committee to choose a replacement, told Sky Sports.

“It gives us plenty of time in terms of 15 months to get our ducks in a line.

“We are already talking about when we are meeting to elect the next captain. It is really not going to interfere with the Ryder Cup in any shape or form.

“I do wish he had waited 15 months. Everyone has to make the right decision financially for themselves.

“It wouldn’t have been any harm as he had signed commitment (with Ryder Cup Europe) to wait those 15 months, the same deal would have been on the table in 15 months’ time.

“It is a pity for him to go but 15 months is loads of time to get someone in place and get a feel for what they are doing.”

Another former Ryder Cup captain Colin Montgomerie told The Scotsman that Stenson’s removal was a “sad day for European golf”.

The Scot added on Sky Sports: “It is the greatest honour which can be bestowed on any European Tour player, captain of the Ryder Cup team.

“It is a shame it has even come to this position.”

Fellow former captain Paul McGinley was slightly more sympathetic to the three-time Ryder Cup winner.

“I’m sure this was not an easy decision for him but ultimately he has made that decision,” McGinley, the winning captain at Gleneagles in 2014, added in The Scotsman.

“It’s something that disappoints me but I can understand. I’m not going to come down on any of the guys who have gone to LIV, they’ve been offered huge amounts of money.

“For Henrik, it’s life-changing at this stage of his career. It’s unlikely he is ever going to earn that kind of money going forward so I can understand.

“I’m sure he’s not going to come out of this looking good, but that is for others to judge, not me.

“But this is incredibly disappointing for the Ryder Cup.”

Two-time European Tour winner Eddie Pepperell was unequivocal as he accused Stenson of taking the money on offer on the LIV tour.

“Henrik, just be honest, it was a bucket load of cash and you couldn’t resist it, like the rest of the guys,” Pepperell tweeted in reply to Stenson’s statement.

“Will always love your game (especially those mid-irons!) but what a disappointing thing to do.”

He later added in reply to another tweet: “Don’t hate it (LIV), just disappointed in the guys joining that’s all. I think they’re thinking solely about their own back pockets and nothing else, which frankly I have little respect for.”

Frenchman Mike Lorenzo-Vera did not mix his words as he replied to Stenson’s earlier statement.

“It’s nice to see lawyers write instead of the player… it feels so honest. What a disappointing behavior… what a bunch of b******t… thank you to drop the team Henrik. Great role model…,” he tweeted.

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