Rory McIlroy might have withdrawn from this week’s Turkish Airlines Open at the last minute, but his opinions about the Ryder Cup have kept him in the news.
Speaking on the No Laying Up podcast, the world No. 2 took issue with the rule that ties eligibility for Europe’s Ryder Cup side to European Tour membership.
“Honestly, it should be the best 12 players from Europe versus the best 12 players from the United States,” the 27-year-old Northern Irishman said. “For me, there shouldn’t be anything to do with membership of tours. To have a guy like Paul Casey not on our team when he is playing some of the best golf in the world right now, it definitely hurt us.”
McIlroy’s comments came a month after Europe fell to the United States, 17-11, at Hazeltine National. Casey, an Englishman who is ranked No. 12 in the world, was not eligible to compete for Europe because he is not a European Tour member.
McIlroy went so far as to suggest that the top 12 Americans and Europeans on the world ranking should be selected for the respective squads.
“I know that isn’t as exciting in terms of captain’s picks and qualifying process and everything else, but if we’re trying to make it the fairest way for the best 12 to make each team, I think that’s the way to go,” he said.
Speaking ahead of the Turkish Airlines Open, Lee Westwood backed McIlroy’s views.
“I think at the end of the day you want the best possible European players teeing it up in the Ryder Cup,” said the 43-year-old Englishman, who was a captain’s pick for the 2016 European team.
“I can see the reason why they want you to be a European Tour member, but I think it’s unfortunate when you have clearly world class/Ryder Cup-experienced players missing out because they have chosen to, for one reason or another, live in America or play golf solely in America.
“I can always sympathize with them because I don’t see why that personal decision should affect whether you can play in the Ryder Cup or not.
“At the end of the day, you’re still European and you still have the passion to play for Europe and represent them. If you prove that you’re world class on, say, the PGA Tour and not the European Tour, why should that have any bearing on whether you can play or not?”
Such views present European Tour CEO Keith Pelley with quite a quandary. Europe’s 2016 Ryder Cup loss after such an extended period of dominance in the biennial event (eight victories in the previous 10 matches) is obviously not sitting well. But the European Tour relies on the Ryder Cup carrot to keep its top players from competing on the more lucrative PGA Tour exclusively.
It might take a task force to sort this one out.