Like almost every other LIV Golf member, Graeme McDowell will have to sit at home next week and watch the Ryder Cup from afar.
The longtime European Ryder Cup star and former U.S. Open winner isn’t happy about it, but he knew this was a possibility when he opted to join the controversial Saudi Arabian startup golf league last year.
“I’m disappointed not to be there in Rome,” McDowell said Friday from LIV Golf’s tournament in Chicago, via Sports Illustrated’s Bob Harig. “Obviously I knew that would be potentially a consequence of being here at LIV. I didn’t expect to be on the team, but I expected to be potentially part of the backroom staff.
“And I’ve enjoyed doing that, and I would have loved to have done it again. But I understand what is going on right now. I wish the team well.”
McDowell won four times on the PGA Tour in his career, including at the 2010 U.S. Open and most recently at the Corales Puntacana Resort & Club Championship in 2019. He has won 11 times on the DP World Tour, too. McDowell has competed in four Ryder Cups and helped the Europeans win three times. He holds an 8-5-2 record in the event and has been an assistant captain twice.
In order to be eligible to either play or serve in a leadership role on the European team, golfers must be a DP World Tour member. McDowell resigned from the DP World Tour earlier this year after a long battle over LIV Golf, which resulted in the Tour fining him and others £100,000 for competing in events without proper authorization.
McDowell and 16 others paid that fine. Sergio Garcia, who has scored more Ryder Cup points for the European team than anyone else in history, has not. He reportedly offered to pay that fine and more earlier this month in a last-ditch effort to participate in Italy next week, but it didn’t work.
While things have settled in the golf world due to the proposed partnership among the DP World Tour, PGA Tour and LIV Golf, it’s still unclear how everything in the sport will shake out. At least this time, McDowell and other longtime European names, such as Ian Poulter, Lee Westwood and others, won’t be participating next week at the Marco Simone Golf and Country Club outside of Rome.
Hopefully, McDowell said, the golf world finds peace before the Ryder Cup heads to Bethpage Black in 2025.
“It’s hard to see it unfold without those names,” McDowell said, via Sports Illustrated’s Bob Harig. “I see a world where we put our differences behind us. LIV proceeds and is a recognized tour, and the PGA Tour, DP World Tours proceed as recognized tours, and we all live in the ecosystem together. Whether we merge or don’t merge, as long as we respect each other for what we’re doing, I can see a world where we all get along, and hopefully that means being part of the Ryder Cup ecosystem.”
Graeme McDowell’s future with LIV unclear
Just like the sport in general, McDowell’s future with LIV Golf is a bit murky.
McDowell is wrapping up his second year with the league, though he sits at No. 39 in the season-long points list. He hasn’t finished better than 12th this season, and he has just one top-10 finish in his career at LIV Golf.
Only the top 24 golfers in the season-long points list will automatically earn a spot back in the league next season. McDowell is almost certainly going to finish outside of that mark, as there is just one individual event left this season after this weekend’s tournament in Chicago. McDowell’s contract runs out at the end of the year.
“Being logical about it, I have to look at the list of guys and know I have to be vulnerable,” McDowell said, via Sports Illustrated’s Bob Harig. “I feel like I’ve been a good spokesman for the league and a good ambassador for the tour, and hopefully there is a captain who wants me on his team … I will cross that bridge when I get to it. I’ve felt my mortality before LIV came along. I’d been struggling for a few years. Right after COVID, I probably had the worst 18 months of my career. So trying to stay in the moment right now and finish as strong as I can."