Rory McIlroy believes Jon Rahm’s controversial switch to LIV Golf could signal the need to change Ryder Cup qualification for the next edition in 2025.
Rahm, who signed a €525 million deal to join the Saudi backed tour on Thursday night has featured in Europe’s last three Ryder Cups, playing a pivotal role in the victory in Rome this year where he was unbeaten in four matches.
Brooks Koepka was the only LIV player involved on either side at Marco Simone GC with Sergio Garcia – who Rahm believes should have been included – Lee Westwood and Ian Poulter ineligible for Luke Donald’s side having resigned their memberships from the DP World Tour.
None of the European LIV players showed any form worthy of selection and are all past their best, but McIlroy feels the DP World Tour will need to restructure the qualifying format to accommodate Rahm.
“Jon [Rahm] is going to be in Bethpage in 2025 so, because of this decision, the European Tour are going to have to rewrite the rules for Ryder Cup eligibility,” McIlroy explained to Sky Sports. “There’s absolutely no question about that – I certainly want Jon Rahm on the next Ryder Cup team.
“I’m going to miss competing against him week in, week out. He has got so much talent, he’s so tenacious and he’s a great team-mate in the Ryder Cup. The thing that I’ve realised is that you can’t judge someone for making a decision that they feel is the best thing for them.
“Is it disappointing to me? Yes, but the landscape of golf changed on June 6th, when the framework agreement was announced, and I think because of that it made the jump from the PGA Tour to LIV a little bit easier for guys.
“They let the first guys really take the heat and then this framework agreement legitimised basically what LIV was trying to do, then I think it’s made it easier now if that’s really what you want to do.
“My opinion now is and there’s only one great team event in golf and that’s the Ryder Cup and that’s never going to change. But if the public wants some more team competition, then you know you have to cater for what the public demands.”
LIV Golf now boasts two of the last four major champions but in Rahm, Koepka, Cameron Smith, Dustin Johnson and Bryson DeChambeau, have a collection of box office major champions in their ranks.
Rahm is LIV’s biggest acquisition to date and McIlroy fears that golf is in danger of ‘cannibalising itself’ and becoming less relevant in the world of sport.
“My fear is that we continue down this path where we have competing tours and it divides the eyeballs that are on the game.
“Some people like LIV, the majority of people like the PGA Tour, but if LIV start to take a few players each and every year it’s really going to be divided and that’s no good for anyone.
“You’re basically cannibalising yourself as a sport, sort of the same as what boxing has done with all the different organisations and a few other sports have as well. To me, having all the best golfers under the one umbrella is the best way forward because I think that’s really what the public wants.
“The majors are already so big, but my fear is that if we keep going down this path then all the best players are only going to get together four times a year. That means golf is only going to be relevant four times a year and that’s good for no one in the game.
“We need to get everyone back together and try to forget about what has happened in the past. Let bygones be bygones and we all move forward together – I think that’s what’s going to be the best thing for the professional game.”