The 2023 Ryder Cup is set to begin, and one notable absence is the absence of seasoned players such as Ian Poulter, Sergio Garcia, Lee Westwood, and Graeme McDowell. These four players have opted to join the breakaway league known as LIV Golf, resulting in them not being eligible for selection for the Ryder Cup. Rory McIlroy, who has been a vocal critic of LIV Golf, admits that it feels strange not having his former teammates around this year. However, he believes that they will soon realize what they are missing out on.
For the first time since 1995, Poulter, Garcia, Westwood, and McDowell will not be part of the European team at the Ryder Cup. Their decision to join LIV Golf and resign from the DP World Tour made them ineligible for selection. McIlroy, who has been on his seventh Ryder Cup journey, acknowledges that their absence will hit home for them this week. He believes that they will miss being part of the Ryder Cup more than the European team will miss them.
In contrast to the absent European players, only one LIV golfer, Brooks Koepka, will be present at the Ryder Cup as a selection of U.S. captain Zach Johnson. The absence of Poulter, Garcia, Westwood, and McDowell has been a topic of discussion leading up to the competition. McIlroy’s teammate Jon Rahm has been seeking advice from Poulter and Garcia to understand their experiences and insights, particularly regarding their significant contributions on and off the golf course.
As Europe aims to maintain its 30-year unbeaten home record, McIlroy, currently ranked No. 2 in the world, will play a crucial role. After the heavy defeat at Whistling Straits in 2021, McIlroy expressed feeling at his lowest in Ryder Cup colors during that competition. Nevertheless, his singles victory against Xander Schauffele on the final day became a turning point in his career.
McIlroy reflects on that crucial victory, stating that it boosted his confidence and belief in himself. It revitalized his game and paved the way for his improved performance. With a 12-12-4 Ryder Cup record, including a singles record of 3-2-1, McIlroy aims to contribute even more to Europe’s tally this year.
One aspect always highlighted in the lead-up to the Ryder Cup is fan involvement. McIlroy anticipates facing heckling from U.S. fans but considers it an integral part of the Ryder Cup experience. While there may be a line that shouldn’t be crossed, he is prepared to deal with the occasional heckler. McIlroy understands that being part of this prestigious tournament means enduring some clowns amid the circus-like atmosphere.
As the 2023 Ryder Cup commences, Europe will strive to maintain its unbeaten home record, despite the notable absence of Poulter, Garcia, Westwood, and McDowell. McIlroy’s determination, along with the support of the European fans, will play a crucial role in Europe’s pursuit of victory. The absence of some seasoned players may create a void, but it also provides an opportunity for new stars to shine and leave their mark on this historic event.