Rahm and McIlroy are both right but only one will get what they want

Ronan MacNamara

Rory McIlroy & Brooks Koepka (Photo: Getty Images)

You can’t have your cake and eat it.

That’s the phrase that has been thrown at LIV golfers over the last two years but unfortunately some are yet to get the message.

The debate over LIV involvement in September’s Ryder Cup will continue to rumble on until we get clarity from both team captains Zach Johnson (USA) and Luke Donald (Europe) and it looks as if they will hold off on that until they make their team selections so the latest chapter to this never-ending novel is far from over.


Sergio Garcia and Brooks Koepka have been the centre of a Ryder Cup debate this week in Muirfield Village with both Jon Rahm and Rory McIlroy offering opposing views on potential LIV golfers donning the Stars and Stripes or the blue and gold.

It turns out, they were both right in their sentiments but again, it looks as if McIlroy will be the one who gets his way.

Rahm admitted that it was sad that politics has gotten in the way of the biennial contest and it is a shame that the Ryder Cup record points scorer Garcia won’t be teeing it up in Marco Simone this year. Spanish partnerships are etched into Ryder Cup folklore and it seems Rahm will be the lone Spaniard this time around.

“I’m going to miss him,” said Rahm in referring to Garcia.

“We had a great partnership at Whistling Straights. I’m going to mention history again one more time. A Spanish duo in the Ryder Cup I think to me is embedded into the roots of the Ryder Cup.

“Look what Seve (Ballesteros) and Ollie (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. 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.

“Though I have a hard time to believe that the best player Europe has ever had, the most successful player Europe has had on the Ryder Cup, isn’t fit to be on the team.”

Rory McIlroy was then asked a similar question 24 hours later and he explained why Brooks Koepka should be on the USA Ryder Cup team but no European player on the LIV tour should be allowed to play for Luke Donald’s side.

“I certainly think Brooks deserves to be on the United States team,” admitted McIlroy. “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.

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

McIlroy has shied away from LIV questions recently but his answer to this was blunt and correct. While Rahm’s sentiments were also true in the fact it is a shame that European Ryder Cup legends will be absent in September, Garcia and co have behaved disgracefully.

Garcia’s behaviour has been nothing short of embarrassing over the last 12 months. In fact, he has behaved terribly throughout his career only now he can be punished.

“I can’t wait to leave this tour” he said when penalised for looking for a golf ball at the 2022 Wells Fargo Championship, just months before LIV Golf began.

Far too much water has passed under the bridge from a European point of view, the Spaniard failed to pay his fine while Ian Poulter and Lee Westwood have constantly slated the DP World Tour. Yes, the Ryder Cup is not one tour vs another it is Europe vs USA but the message seems European LIV presence in the team room would be conflicting.

Garcia also resigned from the DP World Tour alongside Poulter and Westwood further diminishing their reputation.

Their demise comes at an opportune time for Europe who need to freshen up their team after an ageing side were swatted away by a youthful US team in record breaking fashion in 2021.

While those three have let their mouths run away with themselves, the feeling from the US camp is that some LIV players would be welcome. The main men in question are Brooks Koepka and Dustin Johnson who have both been up front about their desire to represent USA in September, coupled with their relative silence since joining the Saudi backed tour.

Unlike the Europeans, Brooks and DJ have taken the money and shut up which is why Zach Johnson has left the door open to LIV involvement and why they would be better received by the PGA Tour players.

“Whoever the best 12 guys that make a complete team, it’s different than individual tournaments. We want a team of guys that are going over there together to bring the Cup back home, and that’s all I really care about,” said Scottie Scheffler.

With just two events left for LIV players to impress USA selectors (US Open, The Open) Koepka’s case looks by far the strongest and he currently sits second in the automatic places after he followed up his runner-up finish at the Masters with a dominant PGA Championship win – his fifth major title.

If he keeps up this form he could become impossible to ignore, if he hasn’t already. McIlroy is right, Captain Johnson probably has to pick him and he would be there on merit.

Koepka and DJ still have good relationships with the big stars on the PGA Tour and their supposedly ‘good behaviour’ since joining LIV would make them welcome in the US team room, it’s hard to say the same for some Europeans.

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