Can LIV Golfers Play In The Ryder Cup?

There are a few ifs, buts and maybes so far as Ryder Cup qualification is concerned

LIV Golf player Brooks Koepka
Brooks Koepka is in a strong position to make Zach Johnson's team
(Image credit: Getty Images)

The Ryder Cup may still be four months off, but talk of who will make the teams is hotting up, especially with qualification for the biennial contest having been affected by a number of players defecting to LIV Golf.

The United States proved too strong for Padraig Harrington’s men at Whistling Straits two years ago, after which discussions soon began about whether Europe would be better off with a younger team and fresh faces for this year's battle in Rome, which begins on September 29. 

At that time, there was no reason to think the qualification procedure would be different to any other year, but this was pre LIV Golf, and the emergence of the new circuit has put an end to some players’ Ryder Cup careers.


Zach Johnson, the US team captain, is currently in a position to pick LIV players, which includes recent PGA Championship winner Brooks Koepka, as well as Major champions Dustin Johnson, Patrick Reed, Bryson DeChambeau and Phil Mickelson.

Koepka joined LIV last summer and, like his fellow LIV competitors, it’s meant that he has been unable to play in PGA Tour events. However, he remains a member of the PGA of America, and the Majors offer such players from the Saudi-backed circuit the opportunity to earn qualification points.

"If you go second, first, first, first, it would be kind of tough not to (get a) pick, right?" said Koepka, whose fifth Major Championship victory catapulted the former world number one into second on the US Ryder Cup qualification standings.

"If you go handle business, I feel like I should be fine. I just play my best and see what happens from there, but I would love to play for him [Zach Johnson]."

Zach Johnson

Zach Johnson has a selection headache concerning LIV Golf players ahead of the Ryder Cup in Rome

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Players earn one point for every $1,000 made in a PGA Tour event and two points per $1,000 won at Majors, with the top six players in the standings after the BMW Championship in August then automatically qualifying for Team USA.

It means Koepka – who also tied for second at The Masters in April – and his LIV colleagues will only have two more events in which to accumulate points, the US Open in June and The Open at Royal Liverpool in July. Johnson is then scheduled to name six captain's picks after the Tour Championship (August 24-27).

European Qualification

The qualification campaign for Europe began last autumn and runs through until this September, when three automatic qualifiers from the European Points List and the same number from the World Points List joining six captain's picks to make up Luke Donald's team.

The selection process for the skipper was made a little clearer when a number of European players resigned from the DP World Tour last month, which immediately made them ineligible to pull on the blue and gold colors and represent the team.

Luke Donald captain Ryder Cup

Luke Donald won't be able to call upon the likes of Sergio Garcia, Lee Westwood and Ian Poulter

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Lee Westwood, Sergio Garcia and Ian Poulter, all Ryder Cup stalwarts, will not be playing for Donald at Marco Simone Golf & Country Club this coming September, having made the decision to quit the DP World Tour.

Henrik Stenson also resigned, but the Swede waved goodbye to his chances of being involved in the Ryder Cup when he joined LIV Golf last year, after which he was removed as Europe's captain. 

However, there is still a possibility that Donald could have LIV players on his team, as not everyone has walked away from the DP World Tour. With limited access to world ranking events, though, it’s looking very unlikely that anyone would grab an automatic spot.

That leaves the question of captain’s picks. Could Donald be tempted to go for a Paul Casey or Thomas Pieters, both still DP World Tour members? Johnson, too, is likely to face a similar kind of dilemma with his picks. 

All will be revealed in the coming months. 

Michael Weston
Contributing editor

Michael has been with Golf Monthly since 2008. As a multimedia journalist, he has also worked for The Football Association, where he created content to support the men's European Championships, The FA Cup, London 2012, and FA Women's Super League. As content editor at Foremost Golf, Michael worked closely with golf's biggest equipment manufacturers, and has developed an in-depth knowledge of this side of the industry. He's now a regular contributor, covering instruction, equipment and feature content. Michael has interviewed many of the game's biggest stars, including six world number ones, and has attended and reported on many Major Championships and Ryder Cups. He's a member of Formby Golf Club.