Ian Poulter Hits Out At Rory McIlroy's Ryder Cup 'Betrayal' Comments

Poulter has criticised the World No.1, who said European Ryder Cup players joining LIV Golf felt like a betrayal

Rory McIlroy and Ian Poulter at the 2021 Ryder Cup
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Ian Poulter has criticised Rory McIlroy after the World No.1 described his feelings of betrayal at European Ryder Cup players who defected to LIV Golf.

Speaking ahead of LIV Golf’s season-ending Team Championship at Trump National Doral in Florida, the 46-year-old said: “A betrayal? We can still qualify for the team as far as I'm aware. Unless we've been told we can't qualify, then I'm still ready to play as much as I possibly can and try and make that team.”

There is some uncertainty over whether European LIV Golf players will be eligible for next year’s tournament. As well as their status on the DP World Tour being up in the air pending the outcome of a hearing to determine their fates next February, European Ryder Cup captain Luke Donald has refused to be drawn on whether he will pick any LIV Golf players for the team if allowed to.

However, Poulter is adamant that his dedication to the biennial competition remains as strong as ever. Poulter, who has lost only six of 22 Ryder Cup matches, said: "My commitment to the Ryder Cup I think goes before me. I don't think that should ever come in question. I've always wanted to play Ryder Cups and have played with as much passion as anyone else that I've ever seen play a Ryder Cup. I don't know where that comment really has come from, to be honest."

Speaking to the Guardian, McIlroy said of the Europeans who have signed for LIV Golf: “It’s a weird thing. I think it is the first time in my life that I have felt betrayal, in a way. It’s an unfamiliar feeling to me. You build bonds with these people through Ryder Cups and other things. Them knowing that what they are about to do is going to jeopardise them from being a part of that ever again? There was a great opportunity for GMac [Graeme McDowell] to maybe be the captain at Adare in 2027. Most of Sergio’s legacy is Ryder Cup-based, same with Poulter, Westwood.

“I would like to think the Ryder Cup means as much to them as it does to me. Maybe it does. But knowing what the consequences could be, I just could never make that decision. OK, it might not be 100% certain but that it could be the outcome? It just isn’t a move I would be willing to make. I thought they felt the same way.”

Ian Poulter and Rory McIlroy at the 2021 Ryder Cup

(Image credit: Getty Images)

While McIlroy is clearly sceptical of LIV Golf players' chances of making the Ryder Cup team, Poulter’s words are not dissimilar to those of another LIV Golf player, Adrian Oteagui, who is also hopeful of making Donald’s team. He told Golf Digest: “Making the Ryder Cup team is my big goal for 2023. It’s been a dream of mine since I was a child. I’m going to fight to try and qualify on the golf course.”

Meanwhile, the Spaniard also didn’t share McIlroy’s concerns over the perceived betrayal. He said: “The way I see it, we all have different points of view, but we should be able to remain friends and [play on the same team]. I’m not fazed by what has been said so far.”

The 2023 Ryder Cup takes place at Marco Simone Golf and Country Club in Rome between Friday 29 September and Sunday 1 October where Donald’s team will hope to reclaim the trophy when they take on Zach Johnson’s USA team.

Mike Hall
News Writer

Mike has over 25 years of experience in journalism, including writing on a range of sports throughout that time, such as golf, football and cricket. Now a freelance staff writer for Golf Monthly, he is dedicated to covering the game's most newsworthy stories. 

He has written hundreds of articles on the game, from features offering insights into how members of the public can play some of the world's most revered courses, to breaking news stories affecting everything from the PGA Tour and LIV Golf to developmental Tours and the amateur game. 

Mike grew up in East Yorkshire and began his career in journalism in 1997. He then moved to London in 2003 as his career flourished, and nowadays resides in New Brunswick, Canada, where he and his wife raise their young family less than a mile from his local course. 

Kevin Cook’s acclaimed 2007 biography, Tommy’s Honour, about golf’s founding father and son, remains one of his all-time favourite sports books.