Six picks for Ryder Cup captain Luke Donald bad sign for LIV Golf rebels

Luke Donald will have twice as many picks as 2021 European Ryder Cup captain Padraig Harrington for next year's matches at Marco Simone Golf and Country Club in Rome.

Matt Chivers's picture
Tue, 30 Aug 2022
Six picks for Ryder Cup captain Luke Donald bad sign for LIV Golf rebels

'Six picks' has never been a phrase associated with European Ryder Cup captains in the past, but Luke Donald will have the luxury of a huge personal selection of players.

Steve Stricker's decision to have six picks in 2021 proved crucial in America's crushing 19-9 win over Europe at Whistling Straits. Donald said in a statement that the switch to six picks was decided after "in-depth analysis."

The six automatic qualifiers will comprise the three leading players on the European Points List followed by the three leading players on the World Points List. Nowhere on the official statement from Ryder Cup Europe does it mention the eligibility of LIV Golf players.

So far, the DP World Tour has allowed the Saudi-backed defectors to play on their schedule. 18 players from the controversial new tour are set to tee it up at the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth next week.

Ian Poulter played in the D+D Real Czech Masters to subsidise the weeks where he is no longer allowed to play on the PGA Tour. His name still remains on the diminishing list of plaintiffs taking legal action against the Tour.

The leniency shown by the DP World Tour will allow European players to gain enough points to come in the top three of the European Points List. As it stands, LIV Golf players can also play in major championships.

If they won a major championship, they would bank themselves 6,000 points on the European Points List. The summary of points is shown below:

Majors / DP World Tour Championship                                              6,000 points
Other Rolex Series events / World Golf Championships                   5,000 points
Events of US$5 million or over                                                          3,500 points
Events of US$2 million or over                                                          2,500 points
Events under US$2 million                                                                1,500 points

The European Points process has been reshuffled to favour those who play more events on the old European Tour. So if Lee Westwood or Ian Poulter won the BMW PGA next week, they would bank 5,000 points for their Ryder Cup qualification campaign. 

The World Points List is determined by world rankings. As the LIV Golf Tour isn't yet eligible for world ranking points, its participants are set to tumble down the rankings. The European Points List would likely be the only route, as a captain's pick would be extremely unlikely.

As much as "in-depth analysis," was used in the new six-pick system, this qualification process has most likely been implemented because Donald is unlikely to choose a LIV Golf rebel over a DP World Tour/PGA Tour player.

Players such as Westwood, Poulter and Henrik Stenson (the deposed European captain) still claim to have affection for the Ryder Cup, but as they knew their moves to LIV Golf would jeopardise their futures in the event, you doubt if their love for it has faded.

This could also come into Donald's consideration. Rory McIlroy won't be the only player dreading the sight of 18 LIV players turning up at the home of European golf next week, so Donald must and will think about the dynamics of his side in 2023.

Cohesion and togetherness is the main reason for Europe's utter dominance in the Ryder Cup, having won nine of the last 13 renewals. Cohesion and togetherness could be at risk if there is a giant elephant in the room during team meetings. 

I doubt something as trivial as personal falling-outs would hinder European chances when they seem such a tight-knit community of players, but internal tensions have been a key reason why the US teams of recent years have failed so often.