Will LIV players play in Ryder Cup? We won’t know for months
There may be a full on civil war taking place in the world of men’s golf right now, but if they can agree on one thing, it’s this: players on both sides seem to think it’ll resolve itself … soon enough.
There are exactly 203 days until the 2023 Masters, 112 days until the first elevated event of the ’23 Tour season, 42 days until LIV’s first team event. Sometime in the next two months, we’ll know how the two tours’ schedules will officially intersect next season.
“It’s up to the powers that be,” Rory McIlroy said Wednesday in Italy, ”to try to come to some sort of —not resolution, I don’t think that’s the right word — but a strategy going forward so that the game can drive at the highest level.”
A lot of players have said exactly this, or some derivative of it. They show some patience with the question being asked again, and dish out an answer that clings to a little bit of hope. It’s just no one can agree on when a resolution might actually take hold. When exactly will another decision be made? When will the Official World Golf Rankings decide if 54-hole LIV events can issue world ranking points? When will major championships change their qualification standards, if at all?
“It’s a weird time in golf,” McIlroy also said. Weird perhaps because the next major decision might not come down to those typical golf “powers that be,” and could instead just come from a United Kingdom court. That we actually have some details on.
The DP World Tour currently has to make room for LIV golfers who want to compete in their events and are qualified to do so, thanks to a court-ruled stay of sanctions. Events like last week’s BMW PGA Championship could become the new norm, during which more than a dozen LIV golfers played at Wentworth. Despite commissioner Keith Pelley’s best wishes, that will be the case for weeks and months to come.
Sometime in February, the sanctions handed down by Pelley — suspensions and fines, akin to those by the PGA Tour, and for similar reasons — will begin to be decided as fair or unjust. Until then, as we first learned at the Scottish Open, LIV golfers were granted the precedent of a stay of those sanctions.
Unfortunately for the likes of McIlroy, who is in Rome this week playing next year’s Ryder Cup course, and even more so for his captain Luke Donald, the questions will not cease. Each event is another event closer to next year’s Cup, and another event where the same answers have to be trotted out.
McIlroy: “But yeah, I have said it once I’ve said it a hundred times, I don’t think any of those guys should be on The Ryder Cup Team.”
Donald, this week: We’re still a little bit in limbo. We don’t know what’s going to happen with the lawsuit so I’m trying to not really put too much energy.
Donald, on Aug. 1: There are legal appeals ongoing, and until such time the players are entitled to play
Shane Lowry last week: With all due respect to a lot of those guys over at LIV, I think they know themselves and that’s why they went to LIV. Their Ryder Cup days are probably over.
Shane Lowry on Monday: Like I said it last week at Wentworth. With all due respect to the guys over at LIV that are European. I think for most of ‘em, their Ryder Cup years are behind them.”
If you’re exhausted by this song-and-dance, it’s not going away. It’s only at that February court hearing, the details of which have not been well-publicized, that we will understand the future of LIV golfers and the DP World Tour.
Scenario A: Similar to the PGA Tour, LIV golfers are suspended and/or banned, and will not be able to compete, therefore dropping opportunities for world golf ranking points and entrance into the majors.
Scenario B: The court sympathizes with LIV golfers, calling LIV another just another organization in the free marketplace of professional golf. LIV golfers are therefore allowed to earn qualification points in the Ryder Cup standings and earn their way onto Donald’s roster.
In a wild, dystopian golf future, could one of those automatic qualifiers be Henrik Stenson, the ex-captain who lost the captainship by joining LIV? Crazier things have happened.