LIV Golf rebel Stenson can have no complaints over Ryder Cup decision – James

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Henrik Stenson cannot feel slighted by losing the Ryder Cup captaincy over his decision to join LIV Golf, according to Europe's 1999 skipper Mark James.

James, who was captain when Europe surrendered a 10-6 lead to suffer defeat at Brookline, said Stenson's move represented a major coup for LIV, but insisted most of the breakaway tour's players were "past their peak".

Stenson became the latest big name to sign up for the controversial Saudi-backed tour on Wednesday, a decision that saw him stripped of Europe's captaincy for the 2023 Ryder Cup in Rome.

The 2016 Open champion wrote on twitter that he disagreed with the decision to remove him from that role, but James feels here was no other alternative.

"I don't think it was so much Ryder Cup Europe making a decision. Henrik was unable to fulfil the obligations of his Ryder Cup captain's contract," James told Stats Perform.

"If you can't fulfil the obligations, then the agreement is null and void.

"It's virtually a mutual decision. He can say, 'well, I didn't agree with the captaincy being pulled'. If he can't fulfil his contract, I'm not too sure what he expects.

"I don't know if Henrik needs the money. It's entirely possible. You hear rumours of a lot of tour players losing vast amounts of money with investments, I'd have no idea if he was one of those.

"But he'll be getting an awful lot of money for being Ryder Cup captain and stuff associated with that. So for him to jump to the LIV Tour means they're offering him a very, very nice wheelbarrow load of cash."

The LIV series already counted experienced pros such as Phil Mickelson, Lee Westwood, Sergio Garcia and Ian Poulter among its ranks, and James believes the circuit has found it far easier to persuade older players to sign up.

James did, however, note the recruitment of a player set to be Ryder Cup captain represented a significant coup for the Greg Norman-led tour.

"Their strategy is to get people who will come and if you get people in their 40s, they are way more likely to come than people in their 20s," James continued.

"They're building up names on their tour and having a tour full of good, big names, even if they're slightly past their peak, which you could argue that Westwood, Poulter, Stenson and [Paul] Casey and others are, is giving them a star-studded field and it's an inducement to other players to then jump on board.

"Certainly, [for] a Ryder Cup captain to sign up is a coup. Henrik knows what he's doing. He's not daft. And he's a really lovely guy. I like him a lot.

"It's a great shame because he would have been a brilliant captain. And that ship now has sailed and it's a pity. It would have been a real jewel in a glittering career."

Attention will now turn to Ryder Cup Europe's efforts to replace Stenson, which 2021 skipper Padraig Harrington said on Wednesday will be "no issue".

James agreed with that assessment as he downplayed the importance of the captaincy, adding: "They [LIV] are taking a lot of possible captains away. So we'll find other people to be captain, captain is not all-important.

"The captain's position is drummed up to be incredibly important. But I think it's overrated, I always have done.

"Every captain we have, over the last, certainly 15 odd years, everyone thinks they're just going a little extra mile to do something else and everything's a little better.

"When you get out there on the turf and start playing against Americans, there's only one thing filling your mind, how much you want to beat the Americans, because this is a massive event and it's a huge thrill to play in it and be involved in it."

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