As the LIV Golf League does its best to integrate with other top leagues and golf organizations globally, it continues to receive pushback from the most powerful people in golf. The PGA Tour has banned all LIV Golf players and is currently embroiled in a lawsuit with a handful of them (including the league itself) to allow them back into the Tour. On the European side, the DP World Tour has allowed golfers to play, though it is unclear what the long-term solution will be there.
That brought up some bitterness last week at the BMW PGA Championship from players like Jon Rahm, Shane Lowry and Rory McIlroy, who did not all believe that LIV Golf players should be taking the spots of regular DP World Tour players. McIlroy reiterated his stance on LIV golfers when he was asked about whether they should be on the Ryder Cup next year in Rome at Marco Simone Golf and Country Club, where he is playing the Italian Open this week.
"I have said it once I've said it a hundred times, I don't think any of those guys should be on the Ryder Cup Team," McIlroy said.
The DP World Tour is in a difficult position. It was legally forced to allow LIV golfers into its events this summer, but given its depleted state and the fact that it is not nearly as strong as the PGA Tour, some big-name LIV golfers playing might actually be enticing for the tour to draw interest and attendance (even if it's based around a bit of drama).
Then there is the matter of the Ryder Cup, which McIlroy has mentioned multiple times over the last few weeks. At a player-commissioner meeting at the BMW PGA Championship last week, Sergio Garcia, a LIV defector, asked DP World Tour CEO Keith Pelley whether he and others would be allowed to play in the 2023 Ryder Cup. Here's how it went down, according to Golf Digest.
"Pelley's response was that they can certainly earn points starting this week, but we don't know what will happen in the next 12 months. Any more questions? You could hear a pin drop. I was laughing at that point. I had expected this to last at least 90 minutes and maybe get a little hostile. But no. Just about nothing came of it all."
Golfers are only able to earn Ryder Cup points at OWGR-sanctioned events, which at the moment does not include the LIV Golf League. Of course, all of this may be a non-starter anyway since most of the former Ryder Cuppers who are concerned about their future with the event are not playing good enough golf to make it anyway. It's doubtful that Lee Westwood or Ian Poulter would have qualified, and though Garcia or Paul Casey may have gotten a captain's pick, the former is not playing all that well and the latter has been injured quite often.
"I wouldn't say I've got much of a relationship with [the Europeans who moved over to LIV Golf] at the minute," McIlroy said. "But again, if you're just talking about Ryder Cup, that's not the future of the Ryder Cup team. They have played in probably a combined 25 Ryder Cups, 30 Ryder Cups, whatever it is. But the future of the Ryder Cup is the Hojgaards [Nicolai and Rasmus], Bobby Mac [Robert MacIntyre] and whoever else is coming up. They are what we should be thinking about and talking about."
It's a great point and one that makes most of this moot. The Euros have a new core of McIlroy, Rahm, Lowry, Viktor Hovland, Matt Fitzpatrick and Tyrrell Hatton, and they're not looking to lean on their old lions any longer.
"I think the European Team has a core of six or seven guys that I think we all know are pretty much going to be on that team, and then it's up to some of the younger guys to maybe step up," added McIlroy. ... But I think we were in need of a rebuild, anyway. We did well with the same guys for a very long time but again as I just said, everything comes to an end at some point. I think Whistling Straits is a good sort of demarcation, I guess.
"That's all behind us. We have got a core group of guys but let's build on that again, and instead of filling those three or four spots with older veterans, let's blood some rookies and let's get them in and build towards the future. I think that's important."
A hearing is set for the beginning of 2023 on whether LIV golfers can play the DP World Tour. It will be significant if they're allowed to as it relates to players getting OWGR points so that they can qualify for majors, but as for any of them making it onto the Rome Ryder Cup team? Whether they're granted the ability to play the DP World Tour full-time or not, it's doubtful that it will even matter.