By Bernie McGuire, Muscat, Oman.
Graeme McDowell admits he would be ‘disappointed’ if he never got to captain a European Ryder Cup team.
McDowell is a veteran of four European Ryder Cup teams in 2008, 2010, 2012 and 2014. He played in 15 matches earning nine points and will be always remembered for being out in the last match and holing the winning putt over American Hunter Mahan to deliver Europe victory in 2010 at Celtic Manor in Wales.
Rewind also to late 2019 when Adare Manor was announced as venue for the 2026 Ryder Cup, though that was prior to the Covid pandemic early the next year that pushed the Ryder Cup back a year meaning the club would host the 2027 Ryder Cup in what will be the 100th anniversary of competition.
When news broke that Adare Manor had been handed the Ryder Cup, it immediately brought McDowell into frame as a likely European Team captain – an Irishman leading Europe on Irish soil. Could there be a better storyline?
However, and before LIV Golf emerged onto the scene, the number of potential Ryder Cup captains available was akin to flights stacking-up over Heathrow with the likes of Henrik Stenson, Luke Donald, Lee Westwood, Sergio Garcia, Ian Poulter, Justin Rose and McDowell each in the captaincy mix.
And while an arbitration hearing in London continues to deliberate on whether or not LIV golfers should be allowed to play on the DP World Tour, McDowell is hoping the vote will be in LIV’s favour that would lead to the day when his Ryder Cup captaincy dream is fulfilled.
“Every European born player that aspires to be a Ryder Cup player, turns into a Ryder Cup player and has represented Europe in a Ryder Cup will tell you it is one of the more memorable experiences in their life,” said McDowell.
“It was one of the factors I considered heavy in making the decision to join LIV that I was walking away from the chance to be a Ryder Cup vice-captain or captain.
“And yes, if I am never a part of that ecosystem I would be very disappointed but I will also be very accepting of it, as I have accepted it.
“Is it right or wrong how it has transpired as we could debate that all night but then if this DP World Tour arbitration hearing goes in favour of the direction for the LIV players then it must open the door for guys like Sergio Garcia.
“Sergio Garcia is the DP World Tour and to take that opportunity away from him seems wrong.
“Sergio Garcia is doing what he’s done all through his career and that is play his minimum commitment on the DP World Tour and go off, as he’s entitled, to go off to other tours in the world where it is more financially lucrative.
“So, this LIV opportunity fits that definition correctly and all Sergio Garcia wants to do, and I am picking him out along with Lee Westwood, as they are the two most decorated players in the past decades we are talking about.
“All these guys are asking for is to continue in being able to operate as they have always operated throughout their career, which is to support Europe when they can and be able to go chase financial opportunities around the world.
“So, if this arbitration hearing goes in favour of LIV, what does that mean? Does it mean Sergio Garcia can be eligible to go qualify for a Ryder Cup pick or can a guy like Ian Poulter get back into the vice-captaincy or potentially play?
“Hopefully, at some point down the line this will all come back together again. It may take six months. It may take six years. I am hoping that is going to be something shorter.
“I feel LIV because they’ve been cast out in the world of golf, that they have to plunder on and row their own boat because LIV has so much to offer, and they have such a great team of players and such a compelling product.
“A product that I feel has a lot of differentiation to it that can be really beneficial to the fans and the world of golf in general.
“My main goal is that I just want golf to succeed. I want golf to do the talking and for this to be less about attacking people personally. It should not be personal but guys are taking it personal.
“I understand why guys get heated about it because they are passionate about what they do, and whatever side of the fence they are on.
“Eventually, the fences and this will all work as a unit but I would not know what that will look like.”
McDowell was speaking after posting a one-over 73 on the opening day of this week’s inaugural $US2m Asian Tour ‘International Series Oman’ being played on the stunning Al Mouj course laid-out along the Arabian Sea in Muscat.
McDowell was out in the morning half of the draw posting two birdies but also three bogeys in the bright but windy conditions.
It left him trailing seven shots behind early clubhouse leader Yonggu Shin of Canada who posted a six-under 66 on the Greg Norman designed course.
- Full scoring HERE