A Ryder Cup threesome

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On eligibiliy & selection
Posted on
June 7, 2023
by
Robert Green in
Estimated reading time: 3 minutes

When the Europeans got hammered in the last Ryder Cup at Whistling Straits, there were two players on the team who still had reason to feel at least partly satisfied about a match that was effectively over before the singles had even started.

Sergio Garcia and Jon Rahm won three matches in partnership while Rahm got a half with Tyrrell Hatton in the first series of fourballs, which Garcia sat out. Duly exhausted, perhaps, they both lost their singles. Rory McIlroy, on the other hand, won his. But then he had lost on his three appearances before Sunday. “I love my teammates so much,” he said between tears. “I should have done more for them this week.”

Garcia is the most successful golfer in Ryder Cup history in terms of points won but his golf has been patchy of late and, of course, he now plays his game on the LIV Golf circuit, which means he has precious few opportunities to gain world ranking or Ryder Cup points. He recently resigned from the DP World Tour and so he will not be on the team in Rome in September. Rahm thinks this is wrong.

“It’s the best Europeans against the best Americans, period,” he said. “Whatever is going on, who is playing LIV and who is not playing LIV, to me it shouldn’t matter.” Put a different way, Rahm evidently feels the match is supposed to be about Europe vs USA, not the European [DP World] Tour vs the PGA Tour. And, essentially, that is surely correct. “It’s whoever is best suited to represent the European side,” he added. “I have a hard time to believe that the best player Europe has ever had isn’t fit to be on the team. It’s unfortunate. I will miss him.”

But for Europe’s captain, Luke Donald, to give Garcia a wild card would have been something of a sentimental stretch even if the LIV shenanigans had not ruled it out, although Garcia seems not to see things that way. He recently said: “I am Spanish and I want the European team to win and do the best they can and have the best chance at winning the Ryder Cup. I was excited about the possibility of playing with Jon again.” Garcia stands at 228th on the Official World Golf Ranking, which is to a large extent explained by his extremely limited opportunities to gain ranking points. Having said that, his opportunities are the same as they are for the guy in 13th place - Brooks Koepka.

Oh yes, him: winner of the USPGA Championship last month and runner-up in the Masters the month before. Due to an administrative oversight by someone somewhere, American LIV golfers have not been excluded from obtaining qualifying points, and McIlroy for one feels Koepka should be on their team. “I certainly think Brooks deserves to be on the US team,” he said. “I mean, he’s second on their standings having only played two counting events.” That suggests he thinks not only is it right that Koepka is eligible to play, he would expect him to get a wild card if required. As for Garcia? ”I have different feelings about the European team and sort of how all that has transpired,” said McIlroy.

It is a tangled web LIV has weaved. One wonders what McIlroy might say if, massively against the odds, Garcia were to win the US Open on Sunday week?

 

You can follow Robert Green on Twitter @robrtgreen and enjoy his other blog f-factors.com plus you can read more by him on golf at robertgreengolf.com

 

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About Robert Green

Robert Green is a former editor of Golf World and Golf International magazines and the author of four books on golf, including Seve: Golf’s Flawed Genius. He has played golf on more than 450 courses around the world, occasionally acceptably.

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