Team Europe looking to regain the Ryder Cup after their record-breaking 19-9 loss in 2021; Five of Europe’s line-up in Whistling Straits have since joined LIV Golf and won’t feature this week in Rome; Watch live on Friday from 6am on Sky Sports Golf
By Ali Stafford in Rome
Last Updated: 27/09/23 10:06am
Rory McIlroy believes the Ryder Cup stalwarts who joined LIV Golf will miss representing Team Europe more than their absence is felt this week, although admits it’s “strange” not having them in Rome.
Five of Europe’s line-up heavily beaten at Whistling Straits in 2021 have since joined the LIV Golf League, with record points scorer Sergio Garcia and stalwarts Ian Poulter and Lee Westwood all having no role in this year’s contest at Marco Simone Golf Club.
The likes of Martin Kaymer, Graeme McDowell and Henrik Stenson – all vice-captains in past Ryder Cups – have all also joined LIV since its launch last summer, with McIlroy believing that this week’s event could make those who moved to the Saudi-backed circuit realise the consequences of their decision.
“It’s certainly a little strange not having them around,” McIlroy admitted in his pre-tournament press conference. “But I think this week of all weeks, it’s going to hit home with them that they are not here.
“I think they are going to miss being here more than we’re missing them, so it’s just more I think this week is a realisation that the decision that they made has led to not being a part of this week, and that’s tough.
“The landscape in golf is ever-changing and more dynamic, and we’ll see what happens and whether they will be part of it in the future. I always thought leading up to this week is when it’s going to hit home that they are not going to be here.”
Garcia enquired earlier this month about paying outstanding DP World Tour fines in an attempt to represent Europe this week, although it was irrelevant as the Spaniard – along with Westwood and Poulter – were ineligible because of withdrawing their DP World Tour membership earlier in the year.
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Europe have four rookies in their team this year and three more playing their first Ryder Cup on home soil, leaving McIlroy and Justin Rose as the most experienced in the line-up, although the four-time major champion is excited with the potential of Luke Donald’s side.
“Everyone knows this is a bit of a transitional period for the European Team and there’s people that have been part of The European Team for a long time that aren’t here this week,” McIlroy added.
“I think the guys that we brought in are going to be awesome. Nicolai [Hojgaard], Ludwig [Åberg], Bob [MacIntyre], that’s the future of our team and the future of the Ryder Cup.”
Rose: Team Europe in ‘transitional period’
Rose makes his seventh Ryder Cup appearance, having missed out on a place in Padraig Harrington’s side two years ago, with the Englishman believing this week can go a long way in building the future of Team Europe.
“There’s a lot of winning culture still in the team, with the people in and around the team, the captain and the vice captains,” Rose said. “Luke [Donald] has got an incredible Ryder Cup record, the most winning from a percentage point of view, so the winning culture in our team is as strong as ever.”
“I think that when you look at…our team room, [Paul] McGinley, Thomas Björn, like I say, José Maria [Olazabal], we had Monty [Colin Montgomerie] in there, just people that are still connected to the European team, and I would say invested in the European team.
“There’s still a lot of winning culture around what we do. So obviously in life and in business and everything, there’s obviously transition phases where you need to look to new leaders and what would be great is if you can kind of slip through that period of transition unaffected.
“You start to look to the next generation obviously to come through and to start to kind of have that winning culture. That could happen as early as this year. You start to get the rookies off to a good start this year at home, and suddenly you start to blood some of the future with positive experiences.
“Maybe the transition has started last time around at Whistling Straits and now we’re coming through that already. But yeah, there is a difference.
“Obviously, Westy [Westwood], Poults [Poulter] – as captains or vice-captains or however they may or may not be involved in the future – they do have a lot to offer, of course, from experiences and that point of view.”
Live coverage from the opening day of the Ryder Cup begins on Friday from 6am on Sky Sports Golf. There’s also live content each day in the build-up to the tournament..
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