Henrik Stenson said he is signing up for the rebel Saudi-backed LIV Golf Series, just hours after he was axed as Europe’s Ryder Cup captain.

“After much consideration, I have decided to join several of my fellow professionals and play in the LIV invitational series,” the 46-year-old Swede said in a statement.

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Stenson said he was “hugely disappointed” not to be able to maintain his role as captain for the next Ryder Cup to be played in Italy next year.

“It is a shame to witness the significant uncertainty surrounding the Ryder Cup and who will be eligible to play etc. I hope a resolution between the tours and its members is reached soon,” he added.

The move to strip Stenson of the captaincy will deepen the rifts in the sport, with a growing number of big stars defecting to the cash-rich new circuit in defiance of the established tours.

Ryder Cup Europe said in a statement that Stenson’s tenure as skipper for the biennial competition against the United States in Rome had been brought to an end “with immediate effect”.

“In light of decisions made by Henrik in relation to his personal circumstances, it has become clear that he will not be able to fulfil certain contractual obligations to Ryder Cup Europe,” it said.

The statement added that confirmation of a new captain for the 2023 tournament would be made in “due course”.

Stenson has now joined fellow Ryder Cup stars Lee Westwood, Ian Poulter and Sergio Garcia in jumping ship to the LIV series. Stenson will reportedly pocket a $A69 million signing-fee.

LIV Golf also announced the signing of world No.36 Jason Kokrak and three-time winner on the PGA Tour, Charles Howell III.

.“Henrik Stenson adds yet another outstanding resume to LIV Golf’s global roster of elite players. His career performances spanning majors, season-long individual championships and international competitions have cemented him as a leader in today’s game,” LIV Golf chief Greg Norman said.

Sky Sports reporter Jamie Weir, who first broke the news on Sunday, labelled it a “dark day” for the Ryder Cup.

He added: “The cynic in you wonders whether Stenson accepted the (European) captaincy knowing he could then drive up his value to LIV. He can’t have been arrogant enough to think he could do both.

“Symbolically a huge coup for Norman, who’ll boldly claim LIV is more enticing than even the RC captaincy.”

Weir also revealed that a LIV Golf member who played at The Open became irate when he was asked about his own status playing in future majors.

“When I asked him at The Open if he was at all concerned this could be his last major for a while, (he) told me to “go f*** myself” and that it was a “f***ing s*** question”,” Weir tweeted.

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