McIlroy Says Koepka 'Deserves' To Be At Ryder Cup But Maintains European LIV Players Shouldn't

The 34-year-old says Brooks Koepka deserves his chance at the Ryder Cup, but European LIV Golf players should miss out

Rory McIlroy during the third round of the 2023 PGA Championship at Oak Hill
Rory McIlroy thinks Brooks Koepka deserves to play in the Ryder Cup
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Rory McIlroy thinks LIV Golf player Brooks Koepka deserves to be in the Ryder Cup, but European players who play in LIV shouldn't be considered.

The American has been in imperious form in recent weeks. After finishing joint runner-up at the Masters, he followed that performance with victory in the second Major of the year, the PGA Championship at Oak Hill. That has left him with an excellent chance of automatic qualification for Team USA in the tournament at Marco Simone Golf and Country Club.

McIlroy, who will appear in this week’s designated event on the PGA Tour, The Memorial Tournament at Muirfield Village, admitted Koepka’s form offers a compelling reason for his inclusion in the biennial tournament.

He said: “I mean, I certainly think Brooks deserves to be on the United States team. I think with how he's played, I mean, he's second in the US standings, only played two counting events. I don't know if there's anyone else on the, you know, on the LIV roster that would make the team on merit and how they're playing. But Brooks is definitely a guy that I think deserves to be on the US team."

However, McIlroy doesn’t think LIV Golf players who would otherwise be eligible for Luke Donald’s Team Europe should play. Crucially, the DP World Tour won a legal battle against LIV Golf players in April, and that appears to be a key reason why, according to the Northern Irishman, the likes of Sergio Garcia, Ian Poulter and Lee Westwood shouldn't be considered.

He said: “I have different feelings about the European team and the other side and sort of how that has all transpired and, yeah, I don't think any of those guys should be a part of the European team."

Last week, Garcia revealed he had spoken to Donald, who had told him he had “no chance” of making the team. That was met with disappointment by World No.2 Jon Rahm, who expressed his sadness that "politics have gotten in the way" of the Ryder Cup.

Rahm, who is also playing in this week’s tournament, said: “It's the best Europeans against the best Americans, period. And whatever is going on, who is playing LIV and who is not playing LIV to me shouldn't matter. It's whoever is best suited to represent the European side. And I have a hard time to believe that the best player Europe has ever had, the most successful player Europe has had on the Ryder Cup isn't fit to be on the team.”

World No.3 McIlroy is a shoo-in for the tournament despite a recent dip in form. However, he achieved a tie for seventh at Oak Hill, suggesting he’s not too far away from his best, and the 34-year-old admitted he is looking forward to the challenge teeing it up at Jack’s Place. 

He said: “I haven't won it yet. I would love to be able to put my name on the trophy and walk up that hill and get that handshake from Jack. That would be pretty nice to do. So, yeah, I'm excited to be back, excited to get on a nice little run of golf here coming up over the next few weeks and, yeah, always good to be in Muirfield Village."

Mike Hall

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.