European Ryder Cup captain Luke Donald has some big decisions to make regarding his team for the 2023 event in Italy.
Rory McIlroy, a Ryder Cup veteran and leader for the European side, has been outspoken about LIV Golf players and his belief they should not be on the team bound for Marco Simone Golf and Country Club near Rome, Sept. 29-Oct. 1, 2023. Jon Rahm, however, has stated he’d be in favor of LIV players, such as Sergio Garcia, being on the team.
Add Matt Fitzpatrick to Rahm’s side of the debate. The 2022 U.S. Open champion told Sky Sports that he would support LIV players being in the mix for the biennial bash against the Americans next fall because he wants the Euros to field the strongest team possible by selecting the 12 best players.
“I think there definitely are a few personal relationships that have been dented by this. I’m not bothered, I just want to win, and I’m sure those boys do too,” said Fitzpatrick, who noted Garcia stands out in particular. “I’m happy to share a room with him, if that’s going to be the case, I can corner him off for everyone else.”
Garcia, Team Europe’s all-time leading scorer with 28 ½ points in 10 appearances, is one of a handful of European players who made the jump to LIV in 2022, including Ian Poulter, Lee Westwood, Graeme McDowell and Henrik Stenson, who was to be the captain of the 2023 European team before he lost his position in July due to his move to the upstart, Saudi Arabia-backed circuit.
“It was a tough one because (Stenson) had started gearing up for Rome, making notes and putting plans together,” said Fitzpatrick, “And then it’s like, ‘sorry, lads, I’m off.'”
“As long as you go and don’t come back, I don’t have an issue,” Fitzpatrick said of players who made the move to LIV. “Go take the money, go play wherever you want, I could not care less, just don’t come back and then take spots from other guys that want to play.”
“I understand that there’s the likes of Westy, Poulter and Sergio that have played a lot in Europe over the years and have done their bit, and they have,” he continued. “I can’t ever knock them for that, they’ve done way more than I have for the European Tour.”
In two appearances for the Euros in 2016 and 2021 – both ended in lopsided losses to the United States on American soil – Fitzpatrick holds a dismal 0-5-0 record. The Europeans haven’t lost on their own turf since 1993 and will enter the 2023 competition severely outgunned. Twelve Americans are currently ranked inside the top 20 in the world, seven of which have Ryder Cup experience. Team Europe has just five: McIlroy, Rahm, Fitzpatrick, Viktor Hovland and Shane Lowry.