European captain Luke Donald declined to say Tuesday whether he could envision picking any of the LIV members for next year’s Ryder Cup team.
Donald will have six wildcard selections next fall, and it’s not currently clear whether LIV players will be eligible to compete at Marco Simone. The situation could eventually be resolved in court.
“It’s hard to answer that because it’s all hypotheticals,” Donald told reporters, “and, to be honest, I haven’t really been spending any of my energy on it because there’s so many unknowns right now. Once this legal situation passes, I’ll have a better understanding. After that, I’ll be able to answer your question a little bit better.”
When asked whether he had outright ruled them out, Donald shook his head.
This week’s BMW PGA Championship, the flagship event on the DP World Tour, is the first qualifying event for the 2023 team. Rory McIlroy, Jon Rahm and Viktor Hovland highlight the field at Wentworth, but they’re also being joined by 18 LIV members including European stalwarts Lee Westwood, Ian Poulter and Sergio Garcia.
McIlroy said it was “hard to stomach” the thought of so many LIV players descending on tour headquarters, but Donald said the early-week vibe hasn’t been contentious.
“I haven’t seen any tension,” he said. “Obviously friendly with those guys and continue to be friendly, and nothing’s really changed there. So, no worries.”
In another press conference Tuesday, Rahm reiterated his stance that he’d like to see a resolution that could allow some players (namely Garcia, the all-time points-earner) the opportunity to compete next year. He also called on the US and European leadership to reach a joint agreement, believing it would be unfair if one team bans LIV players but not the other.
“There’s only one problem in life that doesn’t have a solution, and that’s death. That’s it. Everything else has a solution,” Rahm said. “If the European Tour really wanted them to play, and as a team we want them to play, I think a solution can be reached. If every party is not happy about it, I don’t know.”
Elevated into his position after Henrik Stenson was stripped of the captaincy, Donald said that the tour-LIV drama hasn’t been a burden. He likened this situation to Sam Torrance’s captaincy in 2002, when some of the wildcard picks he made a year earlier had fallen out of form by the time the delayed cup was played, and Colin Montgomerie’s reign in 2010, when poor weather forced officials to condense the format. Both captains led the Europeans to victory.
“All I can control is right now and the decisions in front of me,” Donald said. “That’s something that’s totally out of my control. It’s going to be down the road. I’ll deal with it when it comes. … There’s always going to be challenges, and I’ll try to deal with them the best I can when it happens.”