Ryder Cup 2023: Lack of LIV players won’t hurt Europe’s chances, says Rory McIlroy

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McIlroy in action during the 2021 Ryder Cup at Whistling Straits
McIlroy will compete at his seventh Ryder Cup this year having secured qualification

The absence of LIV players from Team Europe will have no bearing on their chances of reclaiming the Ryder Cup this year, says Rory McIlroy.

European stalwarts Sergio Garcia, Lee Westwood and Ian Poulter, who joined the LIV circuit in 2022 are ineligible after resigning from the DP World Tour.

US LIV players are eligible for next month’s event in Rome.

“I don’t think it would make a difference for us,” said the world number two.

Garcia is Europe’s record points scorer with 28½ from 10 appearances in the biennial competition against the US. Westwood has played on a record seven winning teams in his 11 starts for Europe, while Poulter has never lost a singles match in his seven Ryder Cup appearances.

Having already secured qualification, McIlroy will be part of Europe’s attempt to regain the cup at the Marco Simone Golf Club from 29 September-1 October after suffering a record 19-9 defeat by the US at Whistling Straits in 2021.

Jon Rahm and Viktor Hovland have also qualified for the European team, with three other automatic qualifiers to be confirmed on 3 September, after next week’s European Masters in Switzerland. Captain Luke Donald will then select six wildcard picks on Monday, 4 September.

US qualifying ended at last week’s BMW Championship, with Scottie Scheffler, Wyndham Clark, Brian Harman, Patrick Cantlay, Max Homa and Xander Schauffele all being confirmed in the team. Captain Zach Johnson will make his six picks on Monday, 29 August.

While Donald’s side will have no LIV players in Italy, five-time major winner Brooks Koepka has been tipped to earn one of Johnson’s six captain’s picks, with world number one Scheffler outlining how close his compatriot came to making the team automatically.

“Brooks? I mean, I looked at the points list the other night. He was about, like 300 or, I think he was 30 points shy? Which is, I think it was the equivalent of like $30,000 (£23,600) throughout the year,” said Scheffler.

McIlroy ‘less emotionally involved’ in off-course matters

Scheffler and McIlroy were speaking before the PGA Tour’s season-ending Tour Championship in Atlanta, which begins on Thursday.

While FedEx Cup leader Scheffler, who was edged out by McIlroy last year, is aiming for his first title, the Northern Irishman hopes to secure a record fourth crown and the $18m (£14.1m) first prize that goes with it.

McIlroy will start the week three shots behind Scheffler with starting scores determined by where players stand in the FedEx Cup after the first two play-off events.

And while McIlroy faces a challenge to take down the world number one at East Lake for the second year in a row, the 34-year-old is excited to focus on golf having become less “emotionally involved” in off-course affairs.

The four-time major winner was one of the PGA Tour’s staunchest defenders in its battle with LIV Golf before the former’s shock deal with Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF), which bankrolls LIV, allowed him to take a back seat and focus on his game.

“I think last year, I was probably energised by everything that was going on in the world of golf. I felt like we were maybe in a bit more of a state of flux,” he said.

“I sat up here at this table this day last year talking about designated events and getting all the best players to play together and all that stuff.

“I remember this time last year being on a board call at 7.30 in the morning on the Tuesday trying to get all that stuff ratified and get it passed through the board.

“I’ve been able to focus a little bit more just on golf and my game and even able to take two days at home between Chicago and here, getting to spend some time with the girls. That’s been really nice.

“[I’m] maybe less emotionally involved. Last year it was to do with how can we make the product of the PGA Tour better and I think I was really invested in that.

“So when it comes to, like, governance and investment and all that, it’s not that I don’t care about it, but it doesn’t excite me as much as making the product better and how can we make this the most competitive landscape to play professional golf and how can we get all the best players to play together.

“I’m on the board and I have to be involved and whenever something’s brought to the table I’ll vote on it yes or no. But, yeah, maybe just not as emotionally engaged on all of this other stuff.”



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