Bitter Ryder Cup vs LIV Golf row from banned players to late offer.

The Ryder Cup returns this weekend following the United States’ victory at Whistling Straits in 2021, and in the meantime, a lot has changed for the sport following the formation of LIV Golf.

After a busy 15 months in the world of golf, the sport can once again focus on drama on the course rather than off it, with the Ryder Cup returning this week.

Team Europe will host American opponents Marco Simone on their home turf, looking to regain the title they lost last time out at Whistling Straits. It was a record victory for the United States, which beat the Europeans 19-9 in Wisconsin.

Two years on, it’s fair to say the professional golf landscape is in a completely different place than it was when Steve Stricker and his 12 players lifted the Ryder Cup trophy.

The emergence of LIV Golf last June saw the sport split in two, with the breakaway federation facing off with the PGA Tour at the top of the golf pyramid. Throughout this horrific civil war, one of the biggest debates has been about the impact the dispute will have on this year’s Ryder Cup.

And while the match-play event often took place far away in the conflict, it was often a topic of conversation for many involved with Team Europe or Team USA.

From ineligible players to the sudden dismissal of captains, here’s how the Ryder Cup is embroiled in arguably the ugliest period in professional golf’s history.

Threats are prohibited
Ahead of LIV Golf’s inaugural event at Centurion Club in June 2022, many high-profile players were linked and eventually participated in the breakaway tour. This came as a shock to many after players were warned of a series of consequences if they changed their country to Saudi Arabia.

One of them could be a ban from the Ryder Cup, which would be difficult for a select group of defectors to hear. In total, eight of the 24 players competing at Whistling Straits took part in the LIV tournament, including three of Europe’s greatest players: Sergio Garcia, Ian Poulter and Lee Westwood.

On the back of the change, Westwood addressed the possibility of being banned from the Ryder Cup at the opening event, commenting:
“That’s something I have to take into account [the Ryder Cup ban], I’m not sure about the date, I’ll be 50 next April. The armband could also be in danger, but Ian has pretty much covered everything.

“What I will say is that Ian [Poulter] and I were members of the PGA Tour when we were on the European Tour and that previously had no bearing on whether people were captains or not. LIV Golf is a different tournament, so why should it be different?” Ultimately, the “ban” was not enforced, so to speak, but those competing on the breakaway circuit felt the impact and we will talk about it later.

Henrik Stenson was fired
The man responsible for leading the Europeans to redemption in Rome was Henrik Stenson, but four months later the Swede was fired. This comes after Stenson chose to join Westwood and go with LIV, which did not sit well with Team Europe bosses.

Since switching teams to Saudi Arabia, the former Open champion has earned £7.3m in prize money, but it’s still not enough to completely erase the pain of his Ryder Cup dismissal, after speaking to the New York Post in July that he still felt “disappointed” a year after being dismissed. Player resigned
During the formation of LIV Golf, DP World Tour and PGA Tour found themselves in a legal dispute with a new rival, with turf rights being the main topic of conversation. For DP World Tour, this is a matter of both fining and suspending their player members for switching to a LIV setup.

To protect them, a group of rebel players asked for “conflict events” to be introduced to avoid any punishment. Nine months after the dispute began, Sports Resolution finally ruled in favor of the DP World Tour boss, which has had adverse effects on the European Ryder Cup team.

After being fined by the Wentworth-based circuit, the iconic European trio of Garcia, Westwood and Poulter have all resigned from their Tour memberships. This not only cost them the opportunity to participate in the DP World Tour but also made them ineligible to represent their continent in the match play event.

Ian Poulter and Sergio Garcia both quit the DP World Tour ( Image: Getty Images)

Brooks Koepka recalls
After months of debate over whether LIV Golf players would compete at the Marco Simone, one renegade player was finally given the green light, American Brooks Koepka. Despite his suspension from the PGA Tour, Koepka surged up the U.S. Ryder Cup rankings after tying for second at the Masters and winning at the PGA Championship in May.

This saw the five-time major winner occupy an automatic spot in the standings until the very final week of qualifying, before being pipped on the final day by Xander Schauffele. Despite falling out of the top six, Koepka became impossible to ignore for captain Zach Johnson, who named him as one of his six skipper picks earlier this month.Koepka is the only man from the breakaway league across both the American setup and Team Europe to be competing in Rome this week.Sergio Garcia’s latest effortThe biggest name missing from Luke Donald’s European squad is Garcia, and despite his absence, the Spaniard has made one last bid to make the Ryder Cup squad. According to The Telegraph, Garcia has contacted DP World Tour bosses to regain his eligibility, paying a £700,000 fine to the Wentworth-based tournament. However, the Spaniard’s late attempt was unsuccessful as the Tour rejected his offer due to his resignation earlier this year. A DP World Tour spokesperson confirmed that Garcia and his colleagues will be able to reapply for membership next season.

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