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Are LIV golfers playing in the Ryder Cup?

The controversial 54-hole circuit has shaken up the world of golf since its first event in June 2022

Ben Fleming
Tuesday 26 September 2023 12:12 BST
(Getty Images)

The Ryder Cup is fast approaching as the biennial competition heads to Italy for the first time with Europe looking to claim back the trophy.

The United States have not won on European soil since 1993, but in the last tournament claimed a commanding 19-9 victory at Whistling Straits to win back the trophy from Team Europe.

Since the last tournament, however, the landscape of men’s professional golf has been shaken to its core with the arrival of LIV Golf. The Saudi-backed league offered vast swathes of money to prize away some of the biggest stars from the PGA Tour and try to start a new rival 54-hole circuit.

Two years on, LIV is now finishing its second season but the effects are still being felt ahead of the Ryder Cup.

Here’s everything you need to know about LIV Golfers and the Ryder Cup.

What is LIV Golf?

LIV Golf is a 54-hole league which began in June 2022. Backed by Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF), which also runs Newcastle United, the league offered up huge sign-on bonuses to attract some of the game’s biggest stars including Dustin Johnson, Bryson DeChambeau, Phil Mickelson, Brooks Koepka and Cameron Smith.

LIV events utilise a shotgun start rather than traditional strokeplay events and each golfer is part of a team, with their score contributing to the individual event as well as their team score. They also play three rounds per tournament rather than the traditional four.

(Getty Images)

Can LIV Golfers play in the Ryder Cup?

Well, it’s complicated and the answer depends largely on which team you want to represent.

The US Ryder Cup team is run by the PGA of America which, crucially, is different from the PGA Tour. As the PGA of America run the US team, they are in charge of selection criteria and, at present, there is nothing to prevent a LIV Golfer from qualifying for the Ryder Cup.

The problem - from a US perspective - was qualifying. As LIV events don’t currently receive world ranking points, any performances on the 54-hole tour didn’t earn players any qualification points. That means that those players were unlikely to qualify automatically and were reliant upon a captain’s pick.

For European golfers, however, it’s a lot different. The European Ryder Cup team is largely run by the DP World Tour - one of LIV’s direct rivals - and players who wanted to be eligible for selection had to be a member of said tour.

As such, many European players, including Ryder Cup legends Sergio Garcia, Lee Westwood and Ian Poulter, faced sanctions when they joined the rival LIV Golf. Facing fines of up to £800,000, they all resigned their membership from the DP World Tour, thus rendering them ineligible for selection.

Have any LIV golfers been selected?

Brooks Koepka will be the only LIV golfer playing in Rome next week. The American enjoyed a stellar run in this year’s majors championships, finishing runner-up at The Masters in April before going on to win his fifth major at the US PGA Championship the following month.

While those performances didn’t earn him an automatic qualifying spot, he was selected as one of US captain Zach Johnson’s six wildcard picks.

Koepka won the US PGA Championship earlier this year (Getty Images)

Fellow LIV Golf stars Dustin Johnson and Bryson DeChambeau were on the US Ryder Cup team in 2021 but neither were selected for the 2023 tournament.

How will the PIF-PGA Tour deal affect the Ryder Cup?

Back in June, the PGA Tour and PIF announced a shock framework deal to become partners alongside the DP World Tour. While the details are still yet to be finalised, the move could see the PGA Tour and LIV Golf, which the PIF runs, come under the same umbrella.

The long-term future of LIV Golf has since been up in the air but the move could, in theory, pave the way for LIV’s European players, in particular, to return to the Ryder Cup in future years.

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