Rory McIlroy reiterates stance despite differing opinions, says LIV Golf players shouldn’t be allowed at Ryder Cup

GUIDONIA MONTECELIO, Italy – It’s a resounding no for Rory McIlroy.

US Open champion Matt Fitzpatrick is open to having LIV Golf players on Europe’s team for next year’s Ryder Cup because he said “I just want to make sure we win.”

Europe captain Luke Donald, meanwhile, is sticking to the official tour line as he says he is in “limbo” waiting for the dispute to be decided in court.

As several of Europe’s best players prepare to play the Italian Open this week at the Marco Simone golf course outside Rome, which will host next year’s Ryder Cup, the pre-tournament discussion revolved around who would make the team should be included in 2023 and who is not.

“I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a hundred times: I don’t think any of these guys should be on the Ryder Cup team,” McIlroy said Wednesday of the players joining the Saudi Arabia-backed Breakaway Series have connected.

On both sides of the Atlantic, litigation rages between the PGA and European tours after LIV golfers were banned from events and the rift between players clinging to the traditional tours and those who joined the lucrative breakaway series have is getting bigger.

But Fitzpatrick, who won his first major title in June, is taking a more neutral stance.

“I just want to win the Ryder Cup. … I want the best 11 guys we can get,” said the Englishman, who lost all three of his matches as the USA suffered a record defeat in Whistling Straits, Wisconsin last year. “I’m not too worried about where they’re going to come from.”

Fitzpatrick even went so far as to reach out to a LIV player at last week’s BMW PGA Championship in Wentworth.

“I told him I’d like him on the team,” Fitzpatrick said, without naming the player.

Donald was named captain last month after Henrik Stenson was stripped of the title for joining LIV.

“Nothing has really changed since I was appointed,” Donald said. “We’re still a bit in limbo. We don’t know what’s going to happen with the lawsuit, so I’m trying not to really put too much energy into it. Once we have a clearer picture I can give you better answers.”

While European Ryder Cup stars Sergio Garcia, Lee Westwood and Ian Poulter were among the LIV golfers who competed at Wentworth, none of these high-profile names made it to Italy.

“I was already committed to playing at this event before Luke was captain and it was someone else,” McIlroy said, refusing to mention Stenson by name again.

“I’ve had discussions with Luke and indeed some of us are meeting for dinner tonight to have a bit of team bonding but also to talk about the course and how we think it should be set up for the benefit of the European team. “

About half an hour from Rome, the course, owned and operated by fashion designer Lavinia Biagiotti Cigna, features undulating terrain that should lend itself to a stadium-like setting fit for the Ryder Cup.

“You’ve got two mobile par 4s (#11s and 16s), you’ve got a couple of holes with water, and you’ve got this wonderful final hole that could be really exciting,” McIlroy said of the back nine.

The only time McIlroy had previously played in Italy was when he won the 2006 European Amateur Championship in the northern city of Biella.

“So I have a 100 percent track record in this country and I want to continue that,” he said.

McIlroy enjoys strolling around Rome with the family, especially since his wife once studied in the city for seven months “and knows her way around”.

However, McIlroy and his teammates’ primary preoccupation is strategizing how to close the gap on America’s 19-9 flogging in Wisconsin.

“The European team has a core of six or seven guys that we all know are going to be on that team and then it’s up to some of the younger guys to maybe step up,” McIlroy said. “I think we would need a conversion anyway. We did well with the same guys for a very long time, but eventually it all comes to an end. I think Whistling Straits is a good line of demarcation.”

Donald is paired with rising Italian Guido Migliozzi and Adrian Meronk, the Polish player who won the Irish Open in July, in the first two rounds this week.

Then there’s Nicolai Højgaard, the 21-year-old Dane who won at Marco Simone’s place a week after his identical twin brother Rasmus won the European Masters in Switzerland last year.

Vice-captain Thomas Bjørn plays in a group with 24-year-old Norwegian Viktor Hovland, who is ranked No. 11 in the world golf rankings.

“I look forward to seeing their games,” Donald said. “I’ll be keeping an eye on some of the younger, exciting talent to try and make this team.”

Then there’s Francesco Molinari, the hero of the European win in 2018, who wants to return to the team after missing 2021 with back problems. He comes from a top 10 result at Wentworth.

“Having an Italian on the team would be huge,” said McIlroy.

Molinari said problems with LIV would take a backseat from September 29 through October. 1 event next year.

“The Ryder Cup is such a big, important and fantastic event that I don’t think it will be harmed by the conflict,” said Molinari. “Even if the situation is not resolved, I think everyone’s attention will be on the Ryder Cup this week.” Rory McIlroy reiterates stance despite differing opinions, says LIV Golf players shouldn’t be allowed at Ryder Cup

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