LIV players have right to play on European Tour: Stenson

Former Ryder Cup captain says golfers fulfilling criteria shouldn’t be stopped from competing


AFP January 20, 2023

ABU DHABI:

Henrik Stenson insisted Thursday that players who signed up to the Saudi-backed LIV Golf series should be allowed to compete on the European Tour.

Stenson, who was axed as Europe's Ryder Cup skipper last year after joining the new cash-soaked tour, believes the rebels who "earn the right" should be welcome on the European circuit, now known as the DP World Tour.

"There's multiple tours in the world and as far as I'm concerned, as long as you fulfill your criteria and earn your right to be there, you should be able to play in as many tournaments as you like," said the Swede.

"But I haven't had anyone step up to me personally and vent those thoughts," added the 2016 British Open champion.

The fate of LIV players on the European Tour will be decided at a legal hearing next month.

Stenson, playing on the regular tour for the first time since last July's Scottish Open, was four shots off the pace after the first round of the Abu Dhabi Championship on Thursday.

Out in front is Luke Donald, the man who succeeded him as Europe's Ryder Cup captain for this year's clash with the United States in Rome.

Donald has a one-shot lead thanks to an opening score of 64 after a round which featured nine birdies and just one bogey.

Stenson said he had no regrets over his loss of the Ryder Cup captaincy.

"I made my decision and obviously Ryder Cup Europe made theirs. It's not great but it is what it is," he added Thursday.

"The Ryder Cup has been a big part of my career and I wish Luke Donald all the best. We will see where we end up in the long run over this."

Donald, 45, said he was pleased with his performance, but joked that he is some way off making his way into his own team for the Ryder Cup.

"1975 I think was the last time that happened. No, we are a long way from that," he admitted.

"Just playing here the last couple of days, I felt like there were some low scores out here as long as the wind didn't blow too hard.

"Just kind of suits my eye. It's not too tight off the tee. I think you have to pick some good lines.

"I think you're going to hit a lot of greens out here because you're going to hit a lot of fairways, too."

Just behind Donald are Guido Migliozzi and Jason Scrivener on seven under par after their 65s.

Irishman Seamus Power is another shot further back after his bogey-free 66.

Former British Open champions Shane Lowry and Francesco Molinari were among seven players to shoot 67.

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