LIV Players Will Miss Ryder Cup More Than We'll Miss Them - McIlroy

Rory McIlroy says LIV golfers Ian Poulter, Lee Westwood and Sergio Garcia will miss the Ryder Cup more than the European team will miss them in Rome

Rory McIlroy at the 2023 Ryder Cup
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Rory McIlroy says the likes of Lee Westwood, Ian Poulter and Sergio Garcia will miss not being involved in the Ryder Cup more than the European team will miss them.

The moment the line slipped out of McIlroy's mouth you could sense that he knew it'd be a headline, but it was a question that needed answering ahead of the 2023 Ryder Cup in Rome.

Westwood, Poulter and Garcia, three of Europe's Ryder Cup stalwarts, will not be in Rome as a consequence of them joining LIV Golf.

And that's without mentioning Henrik Stenson, who would have been leading Europe out as captain had he not decided to leave the DP World Tour and play in the lucrative 54-hole team golf event.

It's now Luke Donald who will have that honour, and although it's a lot of experience to lose, including the event's all-time top points scorer Garcia, McIlroy believes they will cope.

The Northern Irishman was keen to insist it was not a dig, but when asked if Europe would miss those big names, he felt they were the ones who would really feel the sense of missing out this week.

"I mean, it's certainly a little strange not having them around," said McIlroy at Marco Simone Golf Club.

"But I think this week of all weeks, it's going to hit home with them that, you know, they are not here, and I think they are going to miss being here more than we're missing them.

"It's just more I think this week is a realisation that the decision that they made has led to not being a part of this week, and that's tough."

Those veterans were unlikely to make the team anyway, but they'd almost certainly be involved behind the scenes and as future captains and vice-captains, something that may still happen as golf navigates the big PGA Tour deal with the Saudi PIF.

"The landscape in golf is ever-changing and more dynamic, and we'll see what happens and whether they will be part of it in the future," McIlroy added.

"I always thought leading up to this week is when it's going to hit home that they are not going to be here."

Rookies are the Ryder Cup future

With McIlroy now a senior statesman in the European team after the likes of Westwood, Poulter and Garcia have gone, he points to rookies Nicolai Hojgaard, Ludvig Aberg and Robert MacIntyre as the future of the team as it transitions into a new era.

"Everyone knows this is a bit of a transitional period for the European team and there's people that have been part of the European team for a long time that aren't here this week," said McIlroy.

"But I think the guys that we brought in are going to be awesome. Nicolai, Ludvig, Bob, that's the future of our team and the future of the Ryder Cup.

"It's been an amazing experience so far, and it's only Wednesday. There's a lot of great things to come. But couldn't be more excited to be a part of the team, and to have those other 11 guys be my teammates."

Paul Higham

Paul Higham is a sports journalist with over 20 years of experience in covering most major sporting events for both Sky Sports and BBC Sport. He is currently freelance and covers the golf majors on the BBC Sport website.  Highlights over the years include covering that epic Monday finish in the Ryder Cup at Celtic Manor and watching Rory McIlroy produce one of the most dominant Major wins at the 2011 US Open at Congressional. He also writes betting previews and still feels strangely proud of backing Danny Willett when he won the Masters in 2016 - Willett also praised his putting stroke during a media event before the Open at Hoylake. Favourite interviews he's conducted have been with McIlroy, Paul McGinley, Thomas Bjorn, Rickie Fowler and the enigma that is Victor Dubuisson. A big fan of watching any golf from any tour, sadly he spends more time writing about golf than playing these days with two young children, and as a big fair weather golfer claims playing in shorts is worth at least five shots. Being from Liverpool he loves the likes of Hoylake, Birkdale and the stretch of tracks along England's Golf Coast, but would say his favourite courses played are Kingsbarns and Portrush.