Will LIV's stars missing out on the 2023 showdown in Rome really weaken the teams as dramatically as is being suggested? George Cooper crunches the numbers

We’re just over a year from the 2023 Ryder Cup and what promises to be a captivating event full of nail-biting moments, but while we should be looking forward to such an occasion with excitement and ambition, the historic event is already being marred by the seemingly never-ending controversies surrounding LIV Golf.

With a host of Ryder Cup stars now defected to Greg Norman’s league, and with Henrik Stenson axed as captain of Team Europe, all the talk surrounding the tournament has been about who will, and who won’t be allowed to play come next September.

Incoming captain Luke Donald has refused to rule out picking LIV’s rebels as a legal situation looms, while Team USA captain Zach Johnson has suggested any American defectors should expect to be disappointed.

Barring a change in scenario, it’s highly unlikely LIV’s golfers will be allowed to compete – something Sergio Garcia has labelled “sad”, while Lee Westwood says it will “weaken” both Team Europe and Team USA.

So just how badly will the Ryder Cup be hit if LIV’s rebels are ineligible to play in Rome? We’ve gone through each team’s rankings and qualification criteria to see how things will shape up in their absence.

Team Europe

As it stands, Europe are yet to confirm their 2023 qualification criteria. But if we look at the world rankings and take the top 12 European players, Paul Casey is the only LIV golfer anywhere to be seen.

  • Rory Mcllroy (3)
  • Jon Rahm (5)
  • Viktor Hovland (10)
  • Matt Fitzpatrick (11)
  • Shane Lowry (24)
  • Tyrrell Hatton (26)
  • Tommy Fleetwood (27)
  • Paul Casey (32)
  • Thomas Pieters (35)
  • Seamus Power (39)
  • Sepp Straka (43)
  • Justin Rose (54)

The notable absentees here are Sergio Garcia (70), Lee Westwood (98), and Ian Poulter (108), who have all slumped massively in the rankings due to poor form, suspensions, and LIV’s failure to gain OWGR status. Donald will be afforded three or four picks, so probably would have picked one of these veterans, but certainly not all three.

Team USA

In contrast to Europe, USA’s qualification process is almost complete, with six players gaining a spot automatically following the BMW Championship. Of these six players, only LIV’s Dustin Johnson would be ineligible after his resignation from the PGA Tour:

  • Scottie Scheffler (2)
  • Will Zalatoris (9)
  • Justin Thomas (7)
  • Cameron Young (17)
  • Dustin Johnson (21)
  • Collin Morikawa (8)

This leaves six captain picks, but of the six next highest ranked players, none are LIV golfers.

  • Patrick Cantlay (4)
  • Xander Schauffele (6)
  • Sam Burns (12)
  • Jordan Spieth (13)
  • Tony Finau (14)
  • Billy Horschel (15)

And, while Johnson – Zach, that is – is by no means expected to pick all these players, he then has the likes of Max Homa (21), Kevin Kisner (28), Daniel Berger (31), Harold Varner III (42) and Keegan Bradley (47) at his disposal.

Of the notable LIV absentees, you would expect at least a couple of Brooks Koepka (25), Bryson DeChambeau (33), and Patrick Reed (49) to have been selected.

So what does this mean overall? It seems the difference between the 2023 Ryder Cup as it stands versus the 2023 Ryder Cup if LIV Golf never existed is the difference between Zach Johnson having two of his big guns available versus them watching from home.

So, contrary to Westwood’s forecast, it appears the Ryder Cup squads will not be significantly weakened if LIV’s golfer are banned from next year’s tournament in Rome. At least not for Europe, anyway…

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