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Sunday, March 3, 2024

European Ryder Cup Legend Suggests Path for LIV Golfers to Return May Be Rocky

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Upon Jon Rahm’s move to LIV Golf, Rory McIlroy quickly came out in favor of him being able to play for the European Ryder Cup team next year at Bethpage Black. Rahm, too, has expressed a desire to be able to compete, and while some of this could be cleared up if there is ever a deal between the PGA Tour, DP World Tour and Public Investment Fund of Saudi Arabia, it is an uneasy wait.

Adding to the angst was Rahm’s countryman, Jose Maria Olazabal. The Spanish golfer, who captained the 2012 European victory at Medinah and was an assistant to Luke Donald last year, did not suggest the path would be smooth.

Jose Maria Olazabal (left) was an assistant to captain Luke Donald (center) at last year’s Ryder Cup, where Jon Rahm and the Europeans won.

David Cannon/Getty Images

“I respect everyone who has gone to LIV Golf,” Olazabal said on a Spanish podcast Golf sin Etiquetas and translated by the Twitter account Handicap54.

“The other part that bothers me is that if you make a decision, it must have consequences. You can’t expect to have the same rights as PGA Tour and DP World Tour players.

“As for changing the rules for Ryder Cup Europe … I don’t know what to tell you. If you miss players like Jon Rahm and Tyrrell Hatton, you could be left naked for one or two Ryder Cups. And? What if you suddenly get three Ludvig Abergs, the Hojgaard (twins, Nicolai and Rasmus)? Turns out we might be able to compete.”

And a few more things …

The Genesis Invitational is the third of eight signature events and will have a field of just 70 players. There were 49 from last year’s top 50 in the FedEx Cup (Tyrrell Hatton who went to LIV was not replaced). Another 15 come from the next 10 from last year’s FedEx Cup Fall and five more from a current FedEx Cup points list. There are four sponsor invites, including host Tiger Woods, the Sifford Award exemption and Justin Thomas qualifying via the top 30 in the world, and three winners from this year—Grayson Murray, Nick Dunlap and Matthieu Pavon. And then there’s the leader from the 2023 Race to Dubai. But Pavon and Justin Rose withdrew and there is no alternate list. This is something the Tour should address for next year. The signature events are already short fields. They should add to the field from one of the FedEx lists and get to 78 players. … After a two-event start to the season, LIV Golf is now off for the next two weeks. It returns March 1-3 in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, followed a week later in Hong Kong. It also plays the week prior to the Masters in Miami. … The first round of the Masters is in 59 days.



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