After the International Presidents Cup team was decimated by defections to LIV Golf, Jon Rahm hopes to avoid the same fate for the European Ryder Cup team.
“The best of each one against the other, and for me the Ryder Cup is above everything. I wish they could play but it doesn’t look good,” Rahm told the UK Telegraph at this week’s Spanish Open in Madrid, where he is leading after three rounds.
As it stands now, US Ryder Cup hopefuls competing for LIV will be barred from next year’s biannual matches in Rome in accordance with indefinite suspensions handed down by the PGA Tour.
The composition of the European team is more up in the air.
LIV golfers can still play in DP World Tour events as the ruling on suspensions initially handed down by chief executive Keith Pelley makes its way through the British court system. The DP World Tour co-owns the Ryder Cup with the PGA of America, meaning the outcome of the trial could determine the status of LIV golfers for next year’s team. As of now, Lee Westwood, Ian Poulter and Sam Horsfield remain in the standings for the European team qualification.
European Ryder Cup captain Luke Donald was not specifically asked about LIV at a Ryder Cup preview last week in Italy, but he did acknowledge there is an additional element of uncertainty surrounding his team in Marco Simone.
“I really don’t know what my team is going to be like,” Donald said. “But I know, I assume there will be some established players and some hungry, new, young players who want to be part of this team.”
If LIV players are allowed to continue playing in DP World Tour events, they will still need to qualify for the team based on the European team point system, or earn one of Donald’s captain picks.
The ranking system was changed for this year so players cannot earn points from any tournament played against a Rolex Series event on the DP World Tour.
Last month’s Presidents Cup was fully owned and operated by the PGA Tour, meaning the suspensions given to LIV pros carried over to the matches. For the internationals, that meant they were without the services of Open Championship winner Cam Smith, Joaquin Niemann, Abraham Ancer, Louis Oosthuizen, Marc Leishman and Anirban Lahiri at Quail Hollow.
Rahm, who reportedly turned down a lucrative offer from LIV Golf, said suspensions from either Tour should have nothing to do with the Ryder Cup.
“The Ryder Cup is not the PGA Tour and the European Tour against LIV,” he said. “It’s Europe versus America, period.”
Regardless of the outcome, one golfer, Rahm’s compatriot and all-time leading Ryder Cup points scorer Sergio Garcia, appears to have withdrawn from Ryder Cup consideration. Garcia has not played on the DP World Tour since who withdrew from the BMW PGA Championship last month and won’t be able to play enough events to maintain his membership unless he plays this month’s Mallorca Open. He did not give a reason for the removal of him in the BMW, and was later seen at the Alabama-Texas football game that weekend.
“It’s a complicated situation for Sergio,” Rahm said. “I understand that he decides not to play, because the last time he played in a tournament on the European circuit he was not very well received, although I imagine that in Mallorca it would be different. In any case, there are still days left and you can still sign up.”
Garcia is on the course for the sixth LIV Golf event this weekend in Thailand and will presumably also play at this month’s LIV Golf Invitational in Saudi Arabia.