World Number One Rory McIlroy admits he felt “betrayal” when some of his Ryder Cup team mates joined LIV Golf and believes the situation has spiralled “out of control.”
It’s no secret that Team Europe needed a wholesale rebuild after a record-breaking defeat to a contrastingly youthful and superior USA side at the Ryder Cup in Whistling Straits last year and five players from that side joining LIV has accelerated that process.
2021 members Ian Poulter, record points scorer in the competition Sergio Garcia, Lee Westwood, Paul Casey and Bernd Wiesberger all now ply their trade on the Saudi backed tour.
Graeme McDowell was regularly mooted to be the European captain when the contest rolls around to Adare Manor in 2027 – he even entertained the idea of a playing role in 2023. Henrik Stenson had his captaincy for next year revoked after accepting an offer from LIV Golf while Martin Kaymer has also taken an offer from LIV.
LIV golfers have been scattered around some high profile DP World Tour events in recent months too as they still remain eligible to compete. Adrian Otaegui even made the inevitable happen when the LIV contracted player won in Valderrama.
It remains unknown whether these players will be eligible to don European blue at Marco Simone GC next September and McIlroy is disappointed with the decision of some Ryder Cup stalwarts to put their careers in the biennial contest at risk.
“I think it is the first time in my life that I have felt betrayal, in a way,” McIlroy told The Guardian. “It’s an unfamiliar feeling to me. You build bonds with these people through Ryder Cups and other things.
“Them knowing that what they are about to do is going to jeopardise them from being a part of that ever again? There was a great opportunity for GMac (McDowell) to maybe be the captain at Adare (Manor) in 2027. Most of Sergio’s legacy is Ryder Cup-based, same with Poulter, Westwood.
“I would like to think the Ryder Cup means as much to them as it does to me. Maybe it does. But knowing what the consequences could be, I just could never make that decision. OK, it might not be 100 per cent certain but that it could be the outcome? It just isn’t a move I would be willing to make. I thought they felt the same way.
“I feel like the place where they have been able to build their legacy and build their brand, they have just left behind. You could make the same argument about me, I started in Europe and went to America but I have always been supportive of the traditional system.
“If people felt so aggrieved about some things, I’d rather be trying to make those changes from inside the walls than trying to go outside and be disruptive.
“This ‘us versus them’ thing has gotten way out of control already. If the two entities keep doubling down in both directions, it is only going to become irreparable. We are going to have a fractured sport for a long time. That is no good for anyone.”