Rahm calls for clarity on inclusion of LIV Golf players at Ryder Cup

By Sports Desk January 04, 2023

Jon Rahm wants the PGA and DP World tours to collaborate in making a decision on the inclusion of LIV Golf players at this year's Ryder Cup.

A number of high-profile players have left both tours for LIV Golf since the Saudi Arabia-backed circuit's inception last year.

Henrik Stenson was stripped of the Europe captaincy in July after making the switch, with Ryder Cup veterans like Sergio Garcia, Ian Poulter and Lee Westwood among those in danger of being ruled ineligible, while the United States have ruled out the selection of LIV players.

Speaking ahead of the Sentry Tournament of Champions, Rahm said it would not be smart to have a situation at the Ryder Cup – which takes place in Rome in September – where one team calls up LIV Golf players and the other does not.

"Listen, there's some people that are going to have to make some tough choices," he said. "I hope the PGA of America and European Tour make a decision together. I don't think it would be smart to have one team allowing LIV players and one not to.

"And besides that, even if they decide not to on that side, I think it's going to give an opportunity for a lot of great young players to show up and have the chance in Europe, right? It's just going to be an opportunity for all of them. We saw a younger United States team last Ryder Cup and they did what they did [beating Europe 19-9 in 2021].

"I'm hoping these younger guys who have grown up watching the Ryder Cup and seeing their idols do what they do, let's say, it energises the team a little bit in any manner and we show up there to win."

Rahm also joked about the "chaos" around the LIV Golf breakaway, saying: "I've had two kids in 15 months, so compared to that, I don't know if what's happened around golf is as comparable."

He insists it has not changed his perception of his fellow professionals, though, adding: "I didn't feel a difference in any of the majors last year. If somebody has a problem with LIV players, they're just not going to deal with them and that's about it.

"In my mind, like I've said it before, I respect their choice and the ones I was friends with before I'm still going to be friends with, right? It doesn't change the way I'm going to operate with them."

Rahm, a big football fan, was also asked for his opinion on the recent World Cup final that saw Argentina and Lionel Messi beat France on penalties after an exciting 3-3 draw in Qatar, which also featured Kylian Mbappe scoring a hat-trick for Les Bleus.

"That final was incredible," he said. "I think I took more inspiration from Mbappe. He put the team on his back and tied a final that they had no business tying, let's be honest.

"And Messi, I mean, I've been watching Messi play for so long that it's amazing that he can still surprise a lot of people. When the debate of greatest of all time is up in the air, he does what he did and carried Argentina to a World Cup final.

"It's not my business to decide who is the best or who is not because I never saw [Diego] Maradona play, but he's made a pretty good argument.

"I don't know if I'll see a final this good ever again in my lifetime. I hope I do, but I doubt it. The only way this could have been better if it was Messi and [Cristiano] Ronaldo facing off and they each had a hat trick and things like that. Kylian being the next closest thing, because he's clearly the future of this sport."

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    World champions Argentina triumphed 2-0 over Canada in Atlanta, making an impressive start to their title defence in the tournament.

    Messi had a hand in both goals as Julian Alvarez and Lautaro Martinez struck in the second half on Thursday.

    The Martinez goal saw Messi rack up his 17th Copa America assist. Since 2011, he has registered over three times as many goals created as any other player in the competition, with Angel Di Maria and Alexis Sanchez ranking second on five each.

    Messi turns 37 on Monday, and has a stunning 20-year professional career under his belt, but that does not mean he does not continue to stun and surprise his opponents, including Marsch.

    Marsch felt his team did what they could to remain compact, but Messi, who created a game-leading five chances, proved the difference on his record-breaking 35th Copa appearance.

    The Canada boss explained the task of having to face Messi was amazing and awful in equal measure, with the forward having a massive impact even though the coach felt his gameplan to try and limit the Argentina star had been implemented reasonably well.

    "Yeah, with Messi we talked a lot about our compactness and then identifying the spaces that he likes to show up in," Marsch said after the game.

    "We talked about not diving in because it's hard to win tackles from him.

    "What happens is if you eliminate yourself or if you start diving in for tackles, he's really good slipping and moving and getting back again and making little final plays.

    "This is what I say about Messi: I have coached against him several times and I feel like we have had a good match plan and we have executed a lot of good things.

    "But he is so good, he is that good that he still makes plays. The two balls he makes on the two goals I think are world class. 

    "Amazing, it's awful. It's amazing."

    Inter Miami star Messi had a game-leading six shots, getting three of them on target, and also led the match for touches in the opponent's box (nine) in an all-action display.

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    The world champions are expected to progress with ease from Group A, and they made an ideal start in Atlanta on Thursday.

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    The 36-year-old's superb tournament record stands at 22 wins, 10 draws and three losses. And he has one Copa title – a total he hopes will increase with another trophy on July 14.

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    Messi had a game-leading six shots, getting three of them on target, with those attempts accumulating an expected goals (xG) value of 0.79 - a total bettered by only his team-mate Martinez (0.8).

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    Canada's goalkeeper Maxime Crepeau, who like Messi plays in MLS, was also on form, making six saves.

    But what Messi lacked in his finishing, he made up for in creativity.

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    It was Messi's pass that released Alexis Mac Allister, who was then wiped out by Crepeau only for Alvarez to tuck home Argentina's 49th-minute opener.

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    His figure of seven line-breaking passes, meanwhile, was more than double that of any other player in Thursday's match.

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    At 24 years and 142 days, Alvarez is the youngest player to score in both the World Cup and the Copa America since Jose Maria Gimenez did so for Uruguay in the 2018 World Cup in Russia.

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    This time, they have got off on the right foot. Upcoming matches against Chile and Peru should not prove tough hurdles to navigate, especially not with Messi already clicking through the gears.

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