It didn’t take lengthy for Henrik Stenson’s resolution to hitch the Saudi-funded LIV Golf Invitational Sequence to repay handsomely.
Lower than a fortnight after the even-keeled Swede was stripped of Europe’s Ryder Cup captaincy with fast impact for defecting to the controversial Saudi-backed breakaway circuit on a reported $50m signing charge, Stenson carded a final-round 69 on Sunday afternoon to win LIV Golf’s third occasion by two pictures over Dustin Johnson and Matthew Wolff at Trump Nationwide Golf Membership within the leafy New Jersey township of Bedminster 45 miles west of New York Metropolis.
“I suppose we will agree I performed like a captain,” stated Stenson, who introduced residence $4m for beating the sphere and a further $375,000 for his crew’s second-place end, eye-watering sums that helped compensate for the withering criticism he’s endured since reneging on a March pledge upon accepting the captain’s put up to totally help the DP Tour.
“I believe there may need been somewhat bit of additional motivation in there this week,” he added. “Once we as gamers have that, I believe we will convey out the good things. I suppose that’s been a little bit of a theme over the course of my profession, I believe, once I actually need one thing I handle to dig somewhat bit deeper, and lots of instances we handle to make it occur.”
On the floor it hit all of the notes of a feel-good narrative: a hard-won return to the winner’s circle for a 46-year-old ranked 173rd on the earth who hasn’t been there typically since his record-breaking triumph on the 2016 Open. However as Stenson accepted the trophy alongside Donald Trump throughout a pyrotechnic-peppered ceremony that was curiously omitted from the official broadcast, whereas Donald Trump Jr declared it “the best F/U within the historical past of Golf”, a gnawing sense of tedium prevailed that not even the post-game Chainsmokers live performance close to the tenth gap may dispel.
The opprobrium that has come to outline the upstart circuit bankrolled by Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund was solely magnified on the Bedminster golf membership owned by a former US president whose function in fueling the US Capitol riot stays underneath investigation by a Home choose committee. Controversy, however louder.
Trump sucked up the highlight all through the proceedings, persistently drawing the most important crowds of the weekend as he watched the competitors from a custom-built terrace alongside the sixteenth tee with a rotating forged of VIPs that on Sunday included Fox Information pundit Tucker Carlson and far-right firebrand Marjorie Taylor Greene.
The 54-hole, no-cut competitors – absent of significant stakes with no significant historical past or world rating factors on the road – felt extra like a gentle launch for Trump’s 2024 presidential run than an genuine sporting expertise. By no means greater than throughout Sunday’s closing spherical as spontaneous chants of “4 extra years!” and “Let’s go Brandon!” – a coded vulgarity amongst Trump supporters – resounded throughout the Outdated Course.
The renegade circuit has enticed a number of the sport’s largest names with exorbitant $25m purses and nine-figure signing-on charges. It has additionally drawn fierce backlash from critics who accuse the Saudi authorities of utilizing sports activities to launder the dominion’s dismal human rights file, alleged ties to the September 11 assaults, extreme repression of girls’s and LGBTQ+ rights and the 2018 homicide of the dissident Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
Nevertheless it doesn’t take a licensed public accountant to grasp why LIV Golf – regardless of the sparse crowds at Bedminster and its modest streaming viewers in absence of a TV deal – has continued to poach one family identify after one other from golf’s established excursions. Think about Johnson, two-time main champion who reportedly joined on a $150m signing charge, who has earned greater than $5.2m in prize cash in three LIV occasions thus far. The splashy purses don’t cease on the high of the leaderboard, both. Australia’s Jediah Morgan, who completed 14-over-par for the weekend, a gaping 25 pictures adrift of Stenson and in useless final, introduced residence $120,000 for his hassle. Good work if you may get it.
LIV Golf is right here to remain, it appears. Subsequent cease: the Oaks course on the Worldwide outdoors Boston in September. However the unusual scenes of Bedminster have solely pushed residence simply how far it has to go with a view to win over its skeptics and bridge the divide of golf’s mounting civil struggle.