Luke Donald and Zach Johnson are dealing with arguably the most unprecedented and confusing time in the history of the Ryder Cup.
LIV Golf is into its second season in Mexico and the pair of captains are still none the wiser as to the eligibility of the rebels who have moved to the Saudi-backed circuit.
The verdict of the Sports Resolutions UK hearing with the DP World Tour could determine if LIV golfers can compete on the formerly-named European Tour.
This could also mean American players travel over and earn crucial world ranking points on the Tour that fined and suspended LIV rebels last summer, but so much uncertainty doesn’t help Donald.
“If we get to a point where someone’s qualified from LIV and there are disagreements between players we’re going to have to figure it out before,” Donald said, according to Golfweek.
“My job as captain is to create a great culture for the team to be successful. Whatever that may be, whoever those 12 guys, that’s my job.”
He added: “All I can do is stay in the present moment and deal with whatever happens in front of me. I’m not looking ahead too much. Right now I’m concentrating more on the guys making points week in, week out.
“The guys on LIV – I’ll certainly keep an eye on those, too. My focus is on those guys committed to trying to make the team.”
Lee Westwood, Ian Poulter, Paul Casey, Sergio Garcia and Bernd Wiesberger all played for the visiting side that was humbled by their trans-Atlantic rivals at Whistling Straits in 2021, but that quintet has now joined Greg Norman’s roster.
Westwood and Poulter became emotional in Wisconsin suspecting that playing for Europe might have been unlikely in 2023, but now captaining the continent is almost certainly out the window with Henrik Stenson being removed from his captaincy in 2022.
Graeme McDowell has virtually kissed goodbye to his dream of leading Europe in the 2027 matches at Adare Manor, but Donald will need to keep tabs on these players as they are still allowed to play on the DP World Tour for now.
Poulter has admitted it would be “devastating” to miss out on leading Europe in a competition in which he has become an icon.
Thomas Pieters looked likely to make Donald’s 12-man side for Italy in September, but he’s made the surprising switch to the breakaway league.
The Belgian wants to play well enough to make himself a guaranteed captain’s pick as his world ranking of 35 is unlikely to stay that way as the weeks tick over.
LIV Golf players have been suspended from the PGA Tour, but it’s conceivable that a Dustin Johnson or a Patrick Reed could perform well/win a major this year which would make them hard to ignore as a captain’s pick.
DJ recently dropped out of the top 10 in the US standings and his absence could leave a void in the US team he earned five points for at the last Ryder Cup.
That is the most likely route for defectors to make the Ryder Cup and this is essentially the question that Donald and Zach Johnson will need to ask themselves: Am I willing to choose a LIV Golf player?
Johnson, who was grouped with Donald at the Honda Classic this week, played it cool when discussing the possibility of LIV players appearing on his team.
“I’m not concerned about it right now at all, frankly,” he said. “There’s so much fluidity and uncertainty still involved.”
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