Keith Pelley is approaching his fourth Ryder Cup as CEO of the DP World Tour during the most turbulent period of his time as the circuit’s boss.
After the tour won its arbitration case and the right to fine players who played in the first LIV Golf event at Centurion last June, Pelley is out the shackles and can speak freely on the issues we all want answers for.
One of these issues is the Ryder Cup itself and the eligibility of LIV players to tee it up in Italy in September.
US captain Zach Johnson recently stated that as long as prospective American players are members of the PGA of America, they are eligible – and Pelley asserted he has no part to play in team selection.
“There are two criteria to get on our Ryder Cup team. You need to be a DP World Tour member and you need to qualify,” he told No Laying Up.
“Luke [Donald] can also make one of his six picks and that’s totally at his discretion. We are in no way saying that the players can’t qualify.
“The challenge the LIV players are going to have is: they have to play so many events on the other tour. Those are up against our events, so they’re not going to have the opportunity to get as many points.
“And then depending on what happens to the sanctions, it’s going to make it more difficult. So, it’s going to be more difficult for them to qualify.
“It comes down to how well they play in the respective majors and how the respective captains believe that A – they’re in form and B – be a positive vibe with the chemistry for those teams.
“I have never and will not influence any of the captain’s picks, even if I wanted to – that isn’t going to happen anyway.
“It’s up to Luke and from my understanding, I haven’t talked to the PGA of America and Seth Waugh about this, but it’s up to Zach Johnson as well.
“The reality is, Italy is going to be something incredibly special and I have always believed the Ryder Cup is a brand that is bigger than the players.”
Thomas Pieters is the highest-ranked LIV player on the European and World Points lists for Team Europe, but he is some way from achieving automatic qualification.
Adrian Otaegui is on the cusp of the top 10 of each list, but he isn’t part of the LIV roster in 2023.
Brooks Koepka is currently ranked 17th in the US Ryder Cup standings after coming tied second at the Masters. Phil Mickelson is the next best-placed LIV player in 23rd.
This is the essence of how difficult it will be for LIV players to qualify on merit, but good performances throughout 2023 could force the hand of Johnson and Donald with their picks.
Talor Gooch shot two rounds of 62 on his way to winning the LIV Golf Adelaide event, while the likes of Koepka and Patrick Reed caught the eye with their performances at Augusta National.
“I don’t know who those six (picks) are going to be, but their ownership and their opinions will weigh heavily into what I, what we, decide to do,” Johnson recently said on the subject.
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