How a Ryder Cup snub convinced pro to join LIV Golf

Adrian Meronk

Adrian Meronk during the last event before his LIV Golf career began.

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It’s difficult to know when the sliding doors moment was for each pro golfer who has committed to LIV Golf over the years. That moment when their decision either crystallized, or when it first dawned on them as a possibility. 

For Phil Mickelson, it may have come on the night he won the 2021 PGA Championship at Kiawah Island, when he gained back every ounce of relevance in the sport. For Jon Rahm, it may have been when he won the Masters, or shortly thereafter. For Adrian Meronk, it appears the sliding door moment didn’t take place when he won something, but rather when he didn’t win something. When Luke Donald favored Nicolai Hojgaard over Meronk for a captain’s pick onto the European Ryder Cup team. 

Meronk is in Vegas this week, competing in his second event as a member of Cleeks GC, the lowliest team in the league’s short history. But he received a lucrative contract to leave behind an unpredictable schedule between the PGA Tour and DP World Tour for a more cemented one. Fourteen tournaments from February through September, plus the two major championships (the Masters, The Open) he is currently qualified for. 

How long Meronk had been in negotiations with LIV Golf is unclear, but he made the jump the week after finishing solo second at the Dubai Desert Classic, where he achieved his highest career world ranking (39th). But according to a report from James Corrigan of The Telegraph, Meronk had likely already made his decision. 

“I don’t know, but I would probably not have come to LIV if I had played in the Ryder Cup,” Meronk told Corrigan earlier this week. “What happened definitely made my choice easier. You know, what I went through just made it easier to care more about myself and not care what other people think of me, or what other people want me to do.”

Meronk was snubbed at the final hour of European Ryder Cup decision-making, in early September when Donald made six captains picks. Ludvig Aberg — who had just won that week — Tommy Fleetwood, Shane Lowry, Justin Rose and Sepp Straka all seemed like obvious bets for Donald. Fleetwood, Lowry and Rose had all starred in Ryder Cups before. Straka was coming off a summer win in America and a T2 finish at the Open. Hojgaard had been playing solid golf himself, with a top-five finish the week of the picks, but Meronk’s play had made a good argument, too.

The Ryder Cup was being played at Marco Simone, just outside Rome, the same course Meronk had won the Italian Open on just four months prior. Meronk was ranked higher than Hojgaard in both European Team qualification rankings, too, but apparently something was missing. Donald went with the Dane, and Meronk was crushed. He talked about it in the weeks that followed. Watching the Ryder Cup was hard for him to do. And when he won on the DP World Tour in October, he continued talking about it

It’s possible this will be the final chapter of Meronk’s 2023 Ryder Cup tale, at least until the next Ryder Cup qualification takes place next year. By then he’ll have played some 25 LIV events or so and the golf world will likely look a lot different. But even then the sting of 2023 may still hang with Meronk. 

‌“What happened with the Ryder Cup just opened my eyes as to how everything works,” he continued with Corrigan. “Yeah, and that in life, especially when you are a professional athlete, it is not your whole life. You just have to make sure that your family is good and that you are good and feeling good.”

Corrigan’s conversation with Meronk, which you can read here, delved further into the 30-year-old’s hindsight of all that happened in 2023. He lost motivation when the Ryder Cup decision was made, and it made him look around at everything he was doing to be a globe-trotting golfer. 

“The last two years I had really great years, but to be honest, I wasn’t enjoying it as much. I was just constantly on the road. We didn’t have a proper home, just packing from hotel to hotel, airport to airport.”

Meronk admitted, like many new LIV golfers have, that he will be enjoying more time off the golf course with family this year. While he didn’t resign his DP World Tour membership, he will incur suspensions and fines from that tour for each LIV Golf event he plays in. Jon Rahm is in the same boat. As long as negotiations between the game’s three biggest tours remain indefinite, that will be the case.

You can find the full story about Meronk here.

Sean Zak Editor

Zak is a writer at GOLF Magazine and just finished a book about the summer he spent in St. Andrews.