BEDMINSTER, NJ (AP) — Henrik Stenson’s decision cost him European Ryder Cup captaincy, paying big and immediate dividends on Sunday when he won the LIV Golf Invitational at Bedminster and more than $4 million for three days’ work raised.
At stake for a three-shot lead going into the third and final round at Trump Nationals, Stenson started with a 20-foot birdie putt and never took anyone close to two shots along the rest of the way.
He closed with a 2-under 69 for a two-shot victory over Matthew Wolf (64) and Dustin Johnson, who made the final hole for 68.
Stenson, five years away from defeating a field of more than 20 players, raised $4 million to win and an additional $375,000 for his second-place finisher.
The big payoff – which does not include a signing bonus which is reported to be around $50 million – comes less than two weeks after the 46-year-old Swede decided to join the Saudi-funded LIV golf series.
Stenson had promised full support to the European Tour when he became Ryder Cup captain and March, and changed his mind four months later when the tour fired him.
“I think we can agree that I played like a captain,” Stenson said on the LIV golf broadcast.
He finished at 11-under 202.
Asked by the LIV-paid broadcaster whether he felt validated by the win, Stenson chose not to attend and replied, “It’s been a good first week.”
“It has been a busy 10 days. I am very proud that I managed to focus as much as I did,” he said.
Stenson won the Hero World Challenge in the Bahamas in December 2019, the holiday event hosted by Tiger Woods with a 20-man field. Prior to this, he had won the Wyndham Championship in 2017. And while he did feel the pressure in the final hour, it didn’t always look like it.
Stenson put an 8-foot birdie put in 14th position to give him a three-shot lead with four holes left, two of which were par 5. But it took four to get down from the left of the green on the 15th par-5. Two holes later, Stenson made a 10-foot putt for par to take a two-shot lead from the par 5 closing hole.
“The putt at 17 was massive to cushion the end to come,” Stenson said.
Johnson has now finished eight, fourth and tied or second in three LIV Golf Invitations. His team, the “4 Aces”, has won the last two times, paying $750,000 to each player. In three events since Johnson reportedly received a $150 million signing fee, the two-time major champion has earned more than $5.2 million on the course.
Mexico’s Carlos Ortiz (68) finished fourth, while Patrick Reed (69) finished fifth.
Phil Mickelson scored a par 71, which is only the second time in nine rounds of LIV golf that Mickelson has shot an equal or better. He finished 35th.
The LIV Golf Invitational is closed for a month during the FedEx Cup playoffs on the PGA Tour, returning on Labor Day weekend an hour west of Boston, and then plays in the Chicago suburbs two weeks later.
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