Luke Donald inundated with LIV requests to play in the Ryder Cup

Luke Donald inundated with LIV requests to play in the Ryder Cup - GETTY IMAGES
Luke Donald inundated with LIV requests to play in the Ryder Cup - GETTY IMAGES

Luke Donald was only appointed Europe’s Ryder Cup captain last month, but he has already received several calls from former Ryder Cup team-mates who have jumped ship to join the Saudi-funded rebel circuit and are desperate to know where they stand for next year’s match.

Yet although those conversations will remain private, the LIV Golf players must be resigned to the fact that, however close their relationships with Donald, he will not be selecting any of them as wildcards for Rome, regardless of their prowess and reputation in the biennial dust-up.

Donald’s first test in this “big picture over friends” dilemma will come in January when he names the two 10-man teams for Great Britain & Ireland versus Continental Europe in the inaugural Hero Cup in Abu Dhabi.

The three-day tussle - five foursomes on the first day, five fourballs on the second day and concluding with 10 singles on the Sunday - is basically the old Seve Trophy in different pants. The former Ryder Cup dress rehearsal was scrapped nine years and although it was replaced with the EurAsia Cup - Europe v Asia - that was also jettisoned after the 2018 match because of the lack of financial backers.

It meant that Padraig Harrington was the first Europe captain this century to go into a confrontation without the aid of a prep event and Paul McGinley, the 2014 Europe captain, was just one expert to claim the void was partly to blame for last September’s record defeat.

In his brief spell at the tiller after he was appointed as the emergency replacement for Henrik Stenson - the Swede who was fired for breaking his contract by signing with LIV in a £40million deal - Donald has been key to ensuring the Tour followed through on its pledge to help blood potential Ryder Cup players and captains.

There is some frustration in the locker room that the name of the late Seve Ballesteros is not evident, but an agreement could not be reached with his family and in Hero MotorCorp - the Indian motorcycle scooter manufacturer - it has found a title sponsor willing to put up the millions required to hold such an event which will immediately precede the Abu Dhabi Championship.

It is good news all round with Donald welcoming the announcement. However, the former world No 1 also recognises that, as the court case that will essentially decide if those who have joined LIV will be banned from the Tour does not take place until February, he will have the opportunity to pick the likes of Ian Poulter, Lee Westwood and good friend Sergio Garcia, particularly as he will have complete control over who is playing and captaining.

Luke Donald could have the chance to pick Lee Westwood - GETTY IMAGES
Luke Donald could have the chance to pick Lee Westwood - GETTY IMAGES

Donald was guarded in his reply when asked about the likelihood of him picking the renegades. “It's hard to answer that because it's all hypotheticals,” he said. “Once this legal situation passes I'll have a better understanding and be able to answer your question.”

In other words: not a chance. Donald names his 20 after the Tour’s season-ender in Dubai in November and it will largely consist of aspirational youngsters, mixed in with a bit of experience.

In a parallel universe, Westwood, Poulter and Garcia would have been involved somehow, but now they face being outside of the biennial dust-up they all did so much to make the biggest week in golf.

That trio, and the other 15 LIV players in this field, were all practising on the West Course on Tuesday having been barred from playing in Wednesday’s pro-am for the BMW PGA Championship. Donald was careful not to criticise the blue and gold legends as were defending champion Billy Horschel and world No 6 Rahm, who decided against criticising those Europe heavyweights,

But the pair did not hold back when it came to those LIV pros such as American Talor Gooch and Mexican Abraham Ancer, who are in the field thanks to being in the world's top 60, but have never before showed any interest in playing in the European circuit's $8million flagship event.

"I honestly don't think that the American guys who haven't supported the Tour should be here,” Horschel, the world No 15 from Florida, said. “Abraham Ancer, Talor Gooch... you've never played this tournament, you've never supported the DP World Tour. Why are you here?

"You are here for one reason only and that's to try to get world ranking points because you don't have them on LIV Golf. It's hypocritical. You said you wanted to play less when you joined LIV.”

Rahm concurred. "It does bug me that somebody who has played over 20 DP World Tour events this year cannot play the flagship event because of some other players who couldn't care any less about the tournament.”