Henrik Stenson wins first event on breakaway tour at LIV Golf Bedminster

By Sports Desk July 31, 2022

Henrik Stenson was victorious at the LIV Golf Bedminster tournament on Sunday, his debut event on the controversial breakaway tour.

Sweden's former Open champion completed his 54 holes on 11 under par, putting him two clear of Dustin Johnson and Matthew Wolff.

Stenson was stripped of his status as Europe's Ryder Cup captain after it was confirmed he was among the newest recruits to the Saudi-funded LIV Golf circuit.

He entered the third and final round with a three-stroke lead over Johnson, and posted three birdies and one bogey for a two-under 69 to get the job done.

Johnson, who was three under on Sunday, had to settle for matching the overall score of Wolff who put together the equal-best round of the tournament with his seven-under 64, finishing at nine under for the weekend.

Carlos Ortiz was alone in fourth at eight under, and Patrick Reed had sole possession of fifth at seven under.

With Johnson and Reed both collecting top-five finishes, and Talor Gooch being part of the five-man group at four under, their 4 Aces GC – along with fourth member Pat Perez (five over) – comfortably won the team competition, eight strokes clear of Stenson's Majesticks GC.

Brooks Koepka finished 11th at three under, alongside Martin Kaymer, while Ian Poulter was a shot back, and Charl Schwartzel snuck into the top 20 at even par.

It was a tournament to forget for Bryson DeChambeau (five over) and Phil Mickelson (six over), although Mickelson did close his weekend with his best round, shooting even par.

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    McIlroy took a strident position against the big-money Saudi venture, which tempted a host of top names with lavish paydays and disrupted the established order of the PGA and European Tours.

    But the world number two – who even claimed last summer that he would “rather retire” than become a LIV rebel – has softened his stance in recent months as Europe Ryder Cup team-mates Jon Rahm and Tyrell Hatton have made the switch from the PGA Tour.

    McIlroy’s former agent Chubby Chandler has claimed the Northern Irishman could make a shock move to LIV Golf – and the four-time major champion did not completely dismiss the idea ahead of the Cognizant Classic in Palm Beach Gardens.

    Chandler put a potential switch at 10 per cent and, asked at a pre-tournament press conference whether he would put a percentage on him joining LIV Golf, McIlroy replied: “Somewhere in the middle maybe. Who knows?

    “I think he’s writing a book, so there is that. I spoke to Chubby, I might have seen him in the Middle East at the start of the year.

    “Never know. He might know a few things. Who knows?”

    McIlroy began his 2024 campaign by finishing second to Tommy Fleetwood at the Dubai Invitational and then winning the Dubai Desert Classic for a record fourth time.

    But it has not been plain sailing for the 34-year-old since returning to the PGA Tour this month.

    McIlroy finished tied 66th at the rain-ruined AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am and had a share for 24th at the Genesis Invitational.

    “I feel like Pebble, the weather disrupted it and the courses were super soft,” said Florida resident McIlroy, who held off Tiger Woods at this event in 2012 to win and claim the world number one spot for the first time.

    “I won the pro-am portion, so I guess it wasn’t all bad.

    “And then Riv (Riviera Country Club) was pretty good. I made a mess of 15 and 16 on the first day but apart from that, I felt like I played some pretty good golf.

    “I feel like my game is in pretty good shape. You know, it’s nice to stay at home this week and feel a little more I guess relaxed in the surroundings.”

    On what he defines as a successful season, McIlroy, a 24-time PGA Tour winner, added: “I guess it comes down to wins and season-long titles and major championships.

    “I can’t sit here and say that the last 10 seasons haven’t been successful because I haven’t won a major.

    “But at the same time, I recognize that whenever all is said and done I’m going to be judged on those tournaments a lot.

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    ::: Danny Willett is supporting Prostate Cancer UK’s golf fundraising challenge, The Big Golf Race, which is calling on golfers to take on 36, 72 or 100 holes in a day to raise money and help save men’s lives. To sign up, visit prostatecanceruk.org/get-involved/activity/golf/the-big-golf-race

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