Rory McIlroy insists Jon Rahm must remain eligible for the Ryder Cup regardless of his switch to LIV Golf. The biennial joust between Europe and the United States has come sharply into focus amid speculation Rahm’s participation may be ended by joining the rebel circuit in a deal worth hundreds of millions. McIlroy believes rule changes must be made to accommodate the Masters champion, if required.
Rahm has privately told his European teammates he fully intends to play at Bethpage Black in 2025. For that to happen, he will have to remain a member of the DP World, formerly European, Tour and play at least four of its regular events each season. He will also continue to earn Ryder Cup qualifying points through major championships.
However, other high profile European players – Sergio García, Lee Westwood and Ian Poulter – resigned from the DP World Tour after incurring fines and suspensions for playing in LIV tournaments. Henrik Stenson was sacked as Europe’s captain for this year’s Ryder Cup because of his LIV commitment.
“Jon is going to be in Bethpage in 2025 so, because of this decision, the tour are going to have to rewrite the rules for Ryder Cup eligibility, absolutely,” McIlroy told Sky Sports News. “There’s no question about that. I certainly want Jon Rahm on the next Ryder Cup team. I’m going to miss competing against him week in and week out. He’s got so much talent, he’s so tenacious, he’s a great teammate in the Ryder Cup.”
In truth, what McIlroy is asking for depends on the outcome of merger talks between the DP World Tour, PGA Tour and Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund. The PIF funds LIV. If those discussions result in a formal agreement – which is highly unlikely to come by a proposed deadline of 31 December – Rahm’s situation will be straightforward. Should they break down, Rahm may need the special circumstances McIlroy is calling for.
“Is it disappointing to me? Yes,” added McIlroy of Rahm’s move. “But the landscape of golf changed on 6 June, when the framework agreement was announced and I think because of that it made the jump from the PGA Tour to LIV a little easier for guys.
“They let the first guys really take the heat and then this framework agreement legitimised basically what LIV was trying to do, then I think it’s made it easier now if that’s really what you want to do.”
McIlroy’s closing comment is his latest hint of frustration at how the golf authorities have handled their PIF deal. He resigned from the PGA Tour’s board last month. At the Ryder Cup in Rome, he was not fussed by the absence of García, Westwood and Poulter.
“They are going to miss being here more than we’re missing them,” said McIlroy before a comfortable European win. Responding to claims his current stance is a contradiction, McIlroy said: “We didn’t NEED any of the others in Rome and we didn’t miss them. We’d certainly miss and need Jon at Bethpage.”
Rahm said upon his unveiling by LIV that he hopes to retain status on both the DP World and PGA Tours. “I will not give that up and hopefully with the freedom that LIV gives me I can play in both of those tours as well,” explained the two-time major winner. “I’ve expressed how important the Spanish Open is to me in the past, and if we ever reached that point [to play in] certain PGA Tour events, I still want to go and play as long as my schedule allows.”
Intrigue now surrounds whether LIV’s latest splurge will attract other marquee names. Patrick Cantlay and Xander Schauffele, both Americans ranked in the world top 10, have consistently been linked with the tour. Rahm’s decision only intensifies the need of the PGA Tour, especially, to see off the LIV threat by way of some kind of alliance. — Guardian