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Rory McIlroy speaks out on LIV golfers playing in Ryder Cup

Rory McIlroy speaks out on LIV golfers playing in Ryder Cup
Although Rory McIlroy is in favor of Brooks Koepka playing in the Ryder Cup, he doesn’t believe any European LIV players should compete in the event. (Credit: Adam Cairns-USA TODAY Sports)

DUBLIN, Ohio (BVM) – After Brooks Koepka’s dominance at the PGA Championship in which he claimed his fifth major victory, a debate arose regarding whether or not Koepka – a LIV golfer who left the PGA Tour last summer for the new league – should be allowed to play in the Ryder Cup.

The discussion has already been had by many throughout the golf world, and it became all the more prominent shortly after Koepka’s win at Oak Hill, as Golf Channel personalities Brandel Chamblee and Brad Faxon had an awkward standoff talking about whether or not Koepka belongs in the Ryder Cup.

Now, the same debate is being raised among many of Koepka’s peers. On Wednesday during a press conference ahead of the Memorial Tournament at Muirfield Village in Dublin, Ohio, four-time major champion Rory McIlroy was asked his thoughts on Koepka competing for Team USA in the Ryder Cup. 

“I certainly think Brooks deserves to be on the United States team,” McIlroy said. “I think with how he’s played, I mean, he’s second in the U.S. standings, only played two counting events. I don’t know if there’s anyone else on the, you know, on the LIV roster that would make the team on merit and how they’re playing. But Brooks is definitely a guy that I think deserves to be on the U.S. team.”

The initial comments may come as a bit of a surprise to some, as McIlroy has been one of the most outspoken players when it comes to players leaving the PGA Tour for LIV. However, when addressing whether any of LIV’s European players should be in the Ryder Cup, McIlroy changed his tune. 

“But I have different feelings about the European team and the other side and sort of how that has all transpired,” McIlroy added. “And yeah, I don’t think any of those guys should be a part of the European team.” 

With where things stand as both tours head into the summer, Koepka is really the only LIV golfer who would seem to deserve a spot on the U.S. Ryder Cup team currently, with former Ryder Cup players Dustin Johnson and Bryson DeChambeau also being potential candidates depending on how they close out the season.

Brooks Koepka PGA Championship Oak Hill LIV Golf Ryder Cup
After winning his fifth major at Oak Hill, a debate has begun as to whether or not LIV golfer Brooks Koepka should be allowed to play on the U.S. Ryder Cup team. (Credit: Adam Cairns-USA TODAY Sports)

That means there will likely be no European LIV players who would be considered for the Ryder Cup anyways. Yet, McIlroy’s comments still seem to disparage some of Team Europe’s most notable Ryder Cup players in recent years that compete in LIV Golf currently such as Paul Casey, Martin Kaymer, Graeme McDowell, Lee Westwood, Henrik Stenson, Ian Poulter and Sergio Garcia.

While Garcia likely wouldn’t qualify regardless, his omission from the European team is something world No. 2 golfer Jon Rahm discussed during his media availability ahead of the Memorial Tournament on Wednesday.

“I’m going to miss him,” Rahm said. “We had a great partnership at Whistling Straits. I’m going to mention history again one more time. A Spanish duo in the Ryder Cup … is embedded into the roots of the Ryder Cup. Look what Seve [Ballesteros] and Ollie [Jose Maria Olazabal] were able to do throughout their partnership, right? So, it’s a little sad to me that politics have gotten in the way of such a beautiful event.”

Sergio Garcia Jon Rahm Ryder Cup Team Europe LIV Golf
Spaniards Jon Rahm, left, and Sergio Garcia, right, have formed a dynamic duo at the Ryder Cup in the past. (Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports)

Rahm also had a different viewpoint overall on LIV players being allowed to compete in the event compared to McIlroy, saying the Ryder Cup should pit the best players from the U.S. against the best players from Europe, regardless of what’s happening in the golf world.

“Again, it’s the best Europeans against the best Americans, period. And whatever is going on, who is playing LIV and who is not playing LIV, to me shouldn’t matter. It’s whoever is best suited to represent the European side.”

Rahm and McIlroy are two of the first among the world’s top golfers to speak on this issue, but they certainly won’t be the last. In the coming months, there are sure to be more debates that will ensue, particularly regarding Koepka’s status on Team USA. 

It’s far from the first time LIV has created some uncertainty in the golf world, and what the PGA rules in the coming months regarding this situation will be telling as to if LIV can coexist alongside the other tours of professional golf.