‘It’s certainly a shame’: Rory McIlroy on Europe losing Sergio Garcia, Ian Poulter, Lee Westwood as future Ryder Cup captains

CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Sergio Garcia, Ian Poulter and Lee Westwood were going to be long shots, or at best on the fringe, for the European squad at the 2023 Ryder Cup later this year in Italy, but the trio were sure-fire future options to captain the team in the biennial bash against the United States.

After the three players, as well as Richard Bland, resigned their DP World Tour membership on Wednesday, their hopes of being at the helm for Team Europe were dashed.

“Their resignations, however, along with the sanctions imposed upon them, are a consequence of their own choices,” said the DP World Tour via a statement, and world No. 3 Rory McIlroy, the face of the European team, couldn’t help but agree.

“I think it’s a shame, right? I think it’s a shame that you’ve got the highest points scorer ever in the Ryder Cup and two guys that when they look back on their career, that’s probably going to be at least a big chunk of their legacy is the roles that they have played in the Ryder Cup for Europe,” said McIlroy after the first round of the 2023 Wells Fargo Championship on Thursday. “For those three guys to not captain Europe one day, it’s a shame.”

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Garcia leads the European side in total points score (28.5) and boasts an impressive 25-13-7 record, while Westwood is the most capped player with 11 appearances and is tied for the third-most points scored (24) with Bernhard Langer. Poulter has been a chest-thumping thorn in the Americans’ side with his 15–8–2 record, 6-0-1 in singles.

“But as the DP World Tour said in their statement, at the end of the day that was their choice and they knew that these were potentially going to be the consequences of those choices and of those actions and here we are. Yeah, it’s certainly a shame.”

For a player to be eligible to represent Europe, they must be a DP World Tour member.

The players “were sanctioned for serious breaches of the Tour’s Conflicting Tournament Regulation committed last June,” after they played in the inaugural LIV Golf event in London without conflicting event exemption from the tour. On April 6, an independent United Kingdom-based panel, Sports Resolutions, ruled in favor of the DP World Tour to be able to fine and suspend LIV players who played in conflicting events without permission.

Luke Donald will captain the Europeans at Marco Simone Golf and Country Club in near Rome, Sept. 29-Oct. 1, after Henrik Stenson was relieved of his duties following his move to LIV Golf last summer.

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