Luke Donald on return of LIV rebel Henrik Stenson: "It's strange, isn't it?!"

Ryder Cup Europe captain Luke Donald says LIV Golf's Henrik Stenson could potentially an awkward few days as the Swede makes DP World Tour return.

Ben Smith's picture
Mon, 16 Jan 2023
Luke Donald on return of LIV rebel Henrik Stenson: "It's strange, isn't it?!"

Luke Donald says Henrik Stenson could "potentially" face an uncomfortable few days as the Swede makes his first DP World Tour start since being sacked as Ryder Cup Europe captain. 

Donald, 45, is playing the Abu Dhabi Championship this week at Yas Links with nine other LIV Golf players. 

One of them, of course, is the 46-year-old Swede who was relieved of his duties after signing with the breakaway circuit. 

Related: Sir Nick Faldo has new DP World Tour job

After being fired, Stenson immediately won on his LIV debut then famously aimed a bizarre dig the backroom Ryder Cup Europe staff. 

"I guess we can agree I played like a captain," said Stenson, who simply could not resist having a pop after collecting a winners cheque of $4m in Bedminster, New Jersey, in August. 

Stenson also received a further $375,000 as the Majesticks GC won the team element.

Overall, Stenson won $5,566,000 on the course with LIV in 2022 after reportedly signing for a fee in the region of $40m to risk his captaincy. 

Donald told Telegraph Sport's Jamie Corrigan that he has exchanged text messages with Stenson. 

He said: 

"At the beginning, when I became captain we swapped some messages and there are no issues. From my standpoint it will be fine this week."

Pressed on whether it will be uncomfortable for Stenson at Yas Links, Donald said:

"Potentially, it's just a strange situation isn't it? But he's obviously playing so it seems like he is fine to be around [the Tour]."

Stenson has previously claimed he would be willing to take a lie detector test over his denials that he used his Ryder Cup captaincy to improve his offer from LIV Golf. 

Donald also said he has spoken to Sergio Garcia "a few times" but refused to reveal what was said. 

Rory McIlroy's relationship with Garcia has apparently broken down completely

Garcia, 43, reportedly sent McIlroy text messages urging the Northern Irishman to "shut up" about LIV Golf. 

"I was pretty offended and sent him back a couple of daggers," McIlroy said of this.  

One of Donald's vice-captains, Nicolas Colsaerts, said this week the actions of some players like Garcia doesn't sit well with him. 

The Belgian believes Garcia shouldn't have expected the treatment he has always received since he decided to join a rival. 

Donald added:

"I have spoken to Sergio quite a few times since I've been captain. I mean, he's cool with me. He understands my role and that I don't have much influence on a lot of this stuff going on right now, so. But yeah, we've had some conversations, which I'll keep private."

Stenson, Garcia, Ian Poulter, Lee Westwood and the other so-called "LIV rebels" could be banned from their home circuit next month. 

A court hearing in February will determine whether the DP World Tour can ban LIV players.

Until then they are able to continue earning Ryder Cup points. 

Which is exactly what Stenson et al are doing. 

Next page: Jon Rahm and Lee Westwood discuss OWGR issues