Rory McIlroy hasn’t held back when criticizing those who left for LIV Golf.
While his feelings about the controversial Saudi Arabian-backed league haven’t changed, McIlroy isn’t happy that some of the best European golfers out there are now ineligible to be future Ryder Cup captains.
Sergio Garcia, Lee Westwood and Ian Poulter, along with Richard Bland, officially resigned from the DP World Tour on Wednesday. While that felt inevitable after those four left for LIV Golf, it officially eliminates them from Ryder Cup contention.
Garcia, Westwood and Poulter would have been easy choices to lead Team Europe at a future Ryder Cup.
“I think it’s a shame, right?” McIlroy said after his opening round at the Wells Fargo Championship on Thursday.
“I think it's a shame that you've got the highest points score ever in the Ryder Cup and two guys that when they look back on their career, that's probably going to be at least a big chunk of their legacy is the roles that they have played in the Ryder Cup for Europe. For those three guys to not captain Europe one day, it's a shame.”
The DP World Tour announced Wednesday night that it had accepted resignations from Garcia, Westwood, Poulter and Bland from its circuit. The resignations came after the four were “sanctioned for serious breaches” for leaving the Tour for LIV Golf. Garcia has yet to pay his fine.
Just like the PGA Tour, the DP World Tour punished players for leaving for an unauthorized tour. It suspended and fined players who competed in conflicting events, a decision that was upheld after a lengthy legal battle. The DP World Tour remained one of the last places LIV Golfers could earn Official World Golf Ranking points.
“The DP World Tour would like to take this opportunity to thank the four players for the contribution they have made to the Tour and in particular to Sergio, Ian and Lee for the significant part they have played in Europe’s success in the Ryder Cup over many years,” the DP World Tour said in a statement.
“Their resignations, however, along with the sanctions imposed upon them, are a consequence of their own choices.”
Though those four weren’t likely to make the European team for the upcoming Ryder Cup this fall in Rome, they would have been easy picks for captains in the future. Garcia has scored a European-best 28.5 points in the event and holds a 25-13-7 overall record. Westwood has played on the team 11 times, and Poulter holds a near-perfect 6-0-1 record in singles matches.
Luke Donald is set to lead Europe this fall in Rome. He was chosen to replace Henrik Stenson as captain after Stenson moved to LIV Golf, too.
“As the DP World Tour said in their statement, at the end of the day that was their choice and they knew that these were potentially going to be the consequences of those choices and of those actions and here we are,” McIlroy said. “Yeah, it's certainly a shame.”
McIlroy, who is another potential future captain pick in the event, posted a 3-under 68 on Thursday at the Wells Fargo Championship. It marks his first event since he missed the cut at the Masters last month.