Why Europe Won't Miss LIV Golfers at Ryder Cup
AS we close in on the announcement of Luke Donald’s European Ryder Cup team I have to ask myself if they would have a better chance of regaining the trophy if the LIV Golf rebels were available for selection.
And my resounding verdict is - no. Definitely not.
Sergio Garcia may well be Europe’s top points scorer but he has shown little or no form this year. The same goes for Lee Westwood, Ian Poulter and Paul Casey. All four are in the autumn of their careers and at some point Europe were going to have to learn to cope without them.
It was always going to be the case that there would be a changing of the guard in 2023. And, for the life of me, I can't imagine anything positive that Garcia, Poulter, Westwood, Casey or any of the other LIV Europeans would have brought to the party.
Donald will head to Marco Simone with more than his fair share of rookies. But they will be hungry. They will not be suffering from any hangovers from the humiliating defeat at Whistling Straits in 2021. And they will be determined to step up the mark and deliver for Donald.
Rory McIlroy, who suffered more than most in 2021, has already made it clear that he feels Garcia, Westwood and Poulter will not be missed. And he is correct.
Golf, like any sport, is cyclical. And these guys have had their time.
Europe will now move on with a new generation of golfers and somebody will become a hero, of that I am absolutely certain.
There is pressure on Donald and his team. The USA have not won on European soil since 1993 - 30 years ago. And Europe have won nine of the past 14 contests.
When it was last played in Europe, at Le Golf National in 2018, Thomas Bjorn’s team inflicted a record 17.5-10.5 defeat on the Americans. This came two years after the USA won 17-11 on home turf.
When you look at the world rankings, Europe should not have a prayer. But that is always the case. And, of course, the Ryder Cup is not played on paper.
Will any of our players be shaking in their boots at the prospect of facing Wyndham Clark or Brian Harman? They may have finished second and third in the qualifying table but they are hardly birdie machines. And, let’s be honest, Xander Schauffele, who squeaked home in the sixth and final qualifying spot, has hardly had a wonderful season either.
Scottie Scheffler is, of course a whole different kettle of fish. Then again, so are McIlroy, Jon Rahm, Tommy Fleetwood and Viktor Hovland, all four of whom would be shoo-ins for the American team were it not for a happy accident of birth!
At Whistling Straits in 2021, for the first time in his Ryder Cup career, McIlroy did not play in all five sessions. I am certain that will not be happening this time, and I also have a sneaky feeling that he will end the week as the top points scorer.
Anything can happen in 18-hole matches, whether they be fourballs, foursomes or singles. Donald admitted that he has been losing sleep over his wild cards. You never know that you have got it right until they go out to play - and he has six of them to pick. But his players know all about playing in majors and competing against the best PGA Tour players. Those who spend most of their careers competing on the DP World Tour may earn less than their American counterparts but they have no need to feel any sort of an inferiority complex. And not a single one of them will.
Bring it on!
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