Ryder Cup Vice Captain Laments 'Huge Loss' Of LIV Golf Players

Nicolas Colsaerts thinks the best players should be in the tournament despite doubts on the eligibility of LIV Golf players

Nicolas Colsaerts takes a shot at the 2022 Andalucia Masters
(Image credit: Getty Images)

After beginning last year in hospital with a rare kidney condition, Nicolas Colsaerts’ 2022 finished far more brightly when he was named as one of Luke Donald’s vice captains for the 2023 Ryder Cup.

Given that prestigious role and the Belgian’s successful history in the tournament, namely his part in Team Europe’s remarkable comeback victory over the USA in 2012, his opinion on the direction of the biennial event carries plenty of weight.

In an interview with The Times, the 40-year-old explained that, despite doubts over the eligibility of LIV Golf players, he thinks the tournament should feature the best players. He said: “There’s a part of me that wants the 12 best Europeans to represent Europe just because of the history. It’s a huge loss for the quality of the event. I don’t know what decision is going to be taken, but regardless of what side of the fence you’re on, the biggest loser is the spirit of the Ryder Cup. It’s a bit of a stain, let’s say.”

It seems unlikely that Ryder Cup legends who now play for LIV Golf, including Sergio Garcia, Ian Poulter and Lee Westwood, will take part in future competitions. Only last month, Donald hinted that their Ryder Cup days are over, suggesting he will turn to younger players who largely featured in last week’s Hero Cup alongside experienced headliners Rory McIlroy, Jon Rahm, Viktor Hovland and Matt Fitzpatrick.

Despite his disappointment at the situation, as far as Colsaerts is concerned, the likes of Garcia and Poulter can’t have it both ways. He said: “They had preferential treatment for however many years and now someone else comes knocking, and you go over there but still want the same treatment here. That doesn’t sit well with me. 

“It’s always difficult to hear somebody criticising something you have a strong affectionate relationship with. In my case, [the criticism] just hurts. Loads of people are still happy to see them play, and people will pay to watch them, but you can feel the atmosphere is different unfortunately and it’s really sad.”

Colsaerts, who has previously said he doesn’t think LIV Golf is growing the game, also explained that the vice-captaincy role had given him the motivation he needed at a critical point of his career. He said: “Let’s face it, I just turned 40, I’m at the back end of my career, and you start asking yourself how long you have left. I was at the end of a bad cycle, I was struggling to find motivation, and then this thing falls out of the sky. Luke asking me now, it’s been like a kick in the butt. Not to sound pitiful but, when you’re low, you’re just hoping for a hand, you want to be able to grab something and I feel like this is what I was waiting for.”

The Ryder Cup begins on 29 September at Marco Simone Golf and Country Club.

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.