How Ryder Cup can forget LIV Golf rebels with most-talented American team in history and fresh-blooded European squad to defend 30-year record

This time next year, one hyperventilating golfer will strike the first tee shot of the most eagerly-anticipated Ryder Cup in recent memory.

Given the last 12 months in golf, it is impossible to predict what will happen between now and then, but we do know a few things for sure.

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Europe will be out for revenge after a hammering in 2021

Team USA will not have any LIV Golf rebels on the team, yet they will enter the match as overwhelming favorites to win a first Ryder Cup on foreign soil since 1993.

For the Americans, PGA Tour membership is part of the criteria to play, and the result of a recent court hearing means the LIV defectors are guaranteed to be missing.

The PGA Tour has banned the rebels, who were denied a temporary restraining order and won’t have their case heard in full until after the Ryder Cup in 2024.

However, Dustin Johnson is arguably the only defector who would make the team, because despite widespread hyperbole, the vast majority of the game’s biggest stars have said no to LIV.

The names of Brooks Koepka, Bryson DeChambeau and Patrick Reed might carry weight, but none of them have set the course alight in recent months.

And with troublesome reputations, captain Zach Johnson might have been inclined to think they would cause more harm than good.

LIV Golf has thrown a big spanner in the works

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LIV Golf has thrown a big spanner in the works


Either way, Team USA were still able to call upon 12 of the world’s top 25 for their Presidents Cup triumph earlier this month, and they appeared more unified than ever before.

Previous American squads have bickered their way to capitulation, but the only Ryder Cup memory this team has is a record-breaking 19-9 victory at Whistling Straits last year.

Despite everything, Team USA will still boast the most talented squad ever assembled in Ryder Cup history, and Team Europe will be clinging onto home advantage.

Plus, things are a little more complicated for the Europeans and captain Luke Donald.

Team USA (predicted)

Scottie Scheffler

Justin Thomas

Jordan Spieth

Patrick Cantlay

Xander Schauffele

Collin Morikawa

Will Zalatoris

Sam Burns

Tony Finau

Max Homa

Cameron Young

Billy Horschel

While the lawsuit against the PGA Tour has been put to bed until after the Ryder Cup, legal action against the DP World Tour (formerly the European Tour) is on the horizon.

Changes have been made to the team selection process for 2023, with Team Europe switching to six automatic qualifiers and six captain’s picks.

The team will therefore consist of the top three players on the European points list, the top three on the World points list, and the rest will be chosen by Donald.

LIV Golf player Ian Poulter and his fellow rebels have been granted a temporary abatement to suspensions and fines on the DP World Tour, meaning they can play in events until a final decision is made in February 2023.

Poulter has been Team Europe's talisman but looks unlikely to feature in 2023

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Poulter has been Team Europe’s talisman but looks unlikely to feature in 2023

So right now, defectors Poulter, Lee Westwood and Sergio Garcia are able to compete for European points to qualify for the team automatically.

However, it is highly unlikely that they will be successful. Rory McIlroy, Jon Rahm, Matt Fitzpatrick and Viktor Hovland are all in the world’s top 11. Then you have Shane Lowry, Tyrrell Hatton and Tommy Fleetwood in the top 30.

There are more complications when it comes to competing on a LIV tour which currently has no Official World Golf Ranking points, but the bottom line is: even if given access to every competition, the European rebels are not good enough to qualify automatically.

Nothing rules out a captain’s pick for LIV players – and a perceived lack of depth on Team Europe is the only thing that will drag Garcia, Poulter and Westwood into the conversation.

Westwood was tipped as a future captain

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Westwood was tipped as a future captain

Garcia is the leading point-scorer in the match’s history, Poulter transforms into a different player at the Ryder Cup, and Westwood has shown decent form in recent weeks.

However, given the fallout to Henrik Stenson giving up the captaincy for LIV, there is surely no chance Donald picks the rebels.

The biennial event is loved by fans and players alike because it stands in direct opposition to LIV’s money-oriented, Saudi-funded product.

This is about nothing more than sporting glory – and it is arguably the established tours’ biggest weapon in the fight against LIV.

Rome will host next year's Ryder Cup

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Rome will host next year’s Ryder Cup

But how does Team Europe put up a fight without their veterans? Well, the situation is not as bleak as many make out.

Besides the aforementioned seven, who are all-but guaranteed to make the team, experienced Major winners such as Justin Rose, Danny Willet and Francesco Molinari can still be called upon.

Willet and Molinari have both shown signs of promise in recent weeks, having dropped out of the world’s top 100, and the latter will have added motivation at a home Ryder Cup in Italy.

However, if 2021 taught us anything, it was that Europe needs to change the guard.

Europe will look to McIlroy for inspiration

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Europe will look to McIlroy for inspiration

Speaking earlier this month, McIlroy said: “The Hojgaards, Bobby Mac, whoever else is coming up. They are the future of the Ryder Cup team.

“That’s what we should be like thinking about and talking about.

Let’s talk about it then.

Scotland’s Robert MacIntyre just downed McIlroy and Fitzpatrick to win the Italian Open at the Marco Simone Golf & Country Club – where next year’s Ryder Cup will take place.

MacIntyre clearly loves the course

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MacIntyre clearly loves the course

With a T6 at The Open and a T12 at The Masters, the 26-year-old is one many expect to force his way onto the team.

The Hojgaard twins, Rasmus and Nicolai, are also heavily tipped for a Ryder Cup bow.

The 21-year-olds from Denmark have five DP World Tour wins between them – and the idea of ​​pairing twins together in foursomes might prove too tempting to turn down.

Let’s not forget: Thomas Pieters won four of his five matches at the 2016 Ryder Cup and the Belgian is rediscovering some form.

Team Europe (predicted)

Rory McIlroy

Jon Rahm

Matt Fitzpatrick

Viktor Hovland

Tyrrell Hatton

Shane Lowry

Tommy Fleetwood

Justin Rose

Rasmus Hojgaard

Nicholas Hojgaard

Thomas Peters

Robert MacIntyre

Seamus Power, Rafa Cabrera-Bello, Alex Noren and Guido Migliozzi could also make a case for themselves over the next 12 months.

So while it might not be a team with the world rankings to match the Americans, there is no shortage of talent and Ryder Cup experience.

When all is said and done, LIV Golf will do its best to dominate the conversation, but the Ryder Cup can dwarf it into insignificance.

And don’t expect Team USA to walk it, either.

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