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What Ryder Cup Futures Do Jon Rahm And Tyrrell Hatton Have

By: | Tue 07 May 2024

Golfshake's Derek Clements shares his latest View From The Fairway column, in which he reviews the comments from new DP World Tour chief Guy Kinnings that addressed the Ryder Cup future of Jon Rahm and Tyrrell Hatton and how the game may look in a few years.

You will forgive me if I express surprise at the news that Jon Rahm and Tyrrell Hatton remain eligible for Europe’s 2025 Ryder Cup team.

New DP World Tour chief executive Guy Kinnings insists there is no need to change existing rules on Ryder Cup eligibility, despite the defection of two of Europe’s key players from their victory over the United States in Rome last autumn. Rahm and Hatton apparently remain eligible for selection for Europe’s defence as long as they pay fines and serve bans that will follow their move to the rival LIV Golf League.

How convenient that two players who still have something to offer European captain Luke Donald and his team should remain in the frame for selection. I may be a voice in the wilderness but I believe that golfers who took the Saudi dollar should be penalised for the decisions they took before they are welcomed back into the fold.

Not so, apparently.

Kinnings began his reign as chief executive of the European Tour Group when he succeeded Keith Pelley. 

When Spaniard Rahm signed his lucrative deal to join the Saudi Arabia-funded LIV set up, his Ryder Cup team-mate Rory McIlroy initially stated that the rules will need to be altered to ensure the Masters champion of 2023 remains a part of the team, although he later rescinded that. Funnily enough, he adopted a very different stance towards the men who initially defected.

But Kinnings says no such move is required. "If you look at eligibility criteria for 2023, then I think there has been a slight misconception," he told BBC Sport.

"The reality is, under the current rules, if a player is European, a member of the DP World Tour and abides by the rules - if you don’t get a release there are sanctions and you take those penalties - there is no reason why players who have taken LIV membership could not qualify or be available for selection."

Jon Rahm

Rahm and Hatton remain members of the DP World Tour despite plying their trade on the LIV circuit. Each time they tee it up on in the breakaway league they have to apply for a release from the establishment tour if they are staging a tournament simultaneously.

The DP World Tour typically refuses such waivers which then puts the players in breach of the rules. Fines of up to £100,000 and tournament suspensions are then imposed.

Last year these punishments prompted Lee Westwood, Ian Poulter and Sergio Garcia to resign their membership, rendering them ineligible for the Ryder Cup.

There are 15 LIV events in 2024 and presumably the same number in 2025, which means Rahm will be paying around £3m in fines if he retains his DP World Tour membership. But what about the relevant suspensions? 

"We take everything on a case by case basis," Kinnings stated. "Everything must be done in a fair, reasonable, proportionate way - that is what Sports Resolutions ruled on."

The new CEO admitted that suspensions can be handed out for weeks where the player being punished might not be seeking to play on the DP World Tour anyway.

Kinnings also said he has been advised there are enough weeks in the calendar for LIV players to serve their punishments and still play the requisite four events to retain membership. "All suspensions will count and you have to serve them,” Kinnings said. "And the guys who’ve analysed this in detail have said if they do it the right way, there is no reason why they can’t play in the Ryder Cup.

"We’re not going to change anything on that basis. Rules are rules and they apply for every member. We’re not in a position to be changing rules that we’ve had to go to court to defend."

Kinnings says "compromise" will be needed for the game to come together and believes the governor of the Saudi Public Investment Fund (PIF), Yasir Al-Rumayyan, wants to find a solution - although that seems as far away as ever.

"It has to be better for the game to find a single product and he is a very smart guy. He will know that," Kinnings said. "Everyone is going to have to give a bit to get to where you need to. The more you read headlines about viewership figures going down, people realise if they don’t move quickly there will be lasting damage. And I don’t think Yasir wants damage to the game, he clearly likes the game."

Since the announcement of a framework agreement in June 2023 the PGA Tour has received $1.5bn (£1.2bn) investment from the US-based Strategic Sports Group, while LIV spent hundreds of millions of dollars securing the signatures of Rahm, Hatton and Adrian Meronk.

Kinnings welcomed McIlroy’s recent return to the PGA Tour policy board. "I think his voice will be really, really important," Kinnings said.

"We just have to get that negotiation started. I get the sense it should be happening fairly soon."

In another U-turn, McIlroy now wants to accept investment from Saudi Arabia and a "world tour" with the PGA and DP World circuits feeding into it.

"What do the fans want to see?" Kinnings asked. "They want to see the best players playing together as often as they can as well as the majors.

"That’s a model I can see being very appealing, but that’s only a part of the picture.

"Self evidently, if we are going to find a solution we are going to need to be thinking about how we integrate team golf in some way and that’s to satisfy what’s been with LIV, but also the recognition that we all love team golf."

Kinnings does not expect significant change until 2026. "We know we’ve got to try and get it fixed as soon as we possibly can," he said.

"The reality is the 2026 season needs to be the one where there are significant changes.

"To do that you’ve got to have it done by the end of 2024 to give yourself 2025 to prepare and roll it out. I will be doing everything I can to encourage people to make a decision as quickly as possible.

"The truth is people are having to do stuff they never thought they’d have to and they’ve got to be willing to compromise. If we find a solution we’ll have to move fast to make it work, but people have to get in a room first to talk about it."

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Tags: Tyrrell Hatton ryder cup LIV Golf Jon Rahm dp world tour

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