Ian Poutler has refuted Rory McIlroy's claim that players joining the LIV Golf Invitational Series engaged in a "betrayal" of their former Ryder Cup team-mates.

Five players who featured in Europe's comprehensive defeat at last year's Ryder Cup have since joined the controversial breakaway circuit, including Poulter, Lee Westwood and Sergio Garcia.

Meanwhile, Henrik Stenson was stripped of Team Europe's captaincy for next year's competition – set to take place at Marco Simone Golf Club in Rome – following his own decision to join LIV Golf.

It remains uncertain whether players from the LIV circuit will be able to feature at the 2023 Ryder Cup, and McIlroy has repeatedly insisted they should not. 

Speaking to the Guardian on Tuesday, McIlroy went a step further, saying: "I think it is the first time in my life that I have felt betrayal, in a way. It's an unfamiliar feeling to me. You build bonds with these people through Ryder Cups and other things."

Poulter responded to that statement at a press conference ahead of LIV's next event in Miami, saying: "A betrayal? I mean, we can still qualify for the team, as far as I'm aware, unless we've been told we can't qualify.

"I'm still ready to play as much as I possibly can and try and make that team.

"My commitment to the Ryder Cup, I think goes before me. I don't think that should ever come into question. 

"I've always wanted to play Ryder Cups and play with as much passion as anyone else that I've ever seen play a Ryder Cup, I don't know where those comments really come from, to be honest."

Phil Mickelson – one of the first household names to join LIV Golf – spoke alongside Poulter on Wednesday but refused to engage with McIlroy's claim the circuit's feud with the PGA Tour was "out of control". 

"I think a lot of Rory, I really have the utmost respect for him, [for] what he's done in the game and how he's played this year," Mickelson said. 

"I have a tonne of respect for him. As players, we have three months off after this event to talk about things like that and so forth."

Sergio Garcia admits it was "a hard decision" to eschew next year's Ryder Cup, stating he does not feel as if he would be "very welcome" amid the bitter PGA Tour-LIV Golf Invitational Series split.

The Spaniard, a six-time tournament winner, will not represent Team Europe next year at the Marco Simone Golf and Country Club in Italy after failing to enter his name by last Friday's deadline.

While Team USA-eligible defectors are barred from inclusion following PGA Tour membership suspension, no call has been made on their opponents.

But even if he was to get a sponsor's invite, Garcia says he will not feature next year, acknowledging he is sad to feel ostracised amid the fallout of his defection to the Saudi-backed tour.

"It was a hard decision," he said. "But unfortunately, it doesn't feel like I'm very welcome there, so I don't want to be a bother to anyone.

"I've always said I love the Ryder Cup too much. I obviously would love to keep being a part of it. [But] when I see that so many people are against [me playing], if the team is better without me, I'd rather be out of it.

"There's obviously several guys who feel strongly that way. The [DP World] Tour is of that same thought. So I don't want to be something that might hurt the team.

"Obviously it's sad for me, how much I love the Ryder Cup and everything I've been able to do with Europe. That's the way they want it. I'm just helping out."

The Ryder Cup is "bigger than any individual player", says Europe captain Luke Donald, while Team USA skipper Zach Johnson has confirmed Tiger Woods will feature in some capacity.

Next year's tournament, set to take place at Marco Simone Golf and Country Club near Rome between September and October, is the first to come amid the bitter LIV Golf breakaway in the sport.

Donald succeeded Henrik Stenson after the latter was sacked for defecting from the PGA Tour, while Phil Mickelson, Dustin Johnson and Cameron Smith are among those who have also moved to the Saudi-backed league.

Questions have been raised over whether LIV Golf players will be considered for teams, with Zach Johnson indicating they would not be eligible for the USA, but Donald has now spoken of his hope the tournament will "unify" golf.

"The Ryder Cup is bigger than any individual player, and it's a great way to unify everyone," Donald said.

"I think it will continue to do that. What's so great about the Ryder Cup is that it does garner an interest in a new generation of players and fans to this game. "

Woods, an eight-time Ryder Cup veteran with Team USA, will be involved, even if he is not a playing member.

"I can tell you right now, I don't know whether he'll be here next year, but he will be part of this team in some capacity. He already is frankly," said Zach Johnson.

"I can't put this mildly; he loves the Ryder Cup. He wants to be a part of it as best he can. He and I will be in constant communication."

Matt Fitzpatrick is "not really too bothered" about the prospect of playing alongside LIV Golf rebels in Europe's Ryder Cup team.

Debate around the controversial Saudi-backed breakaway series has dominated this year and is only likely to ramp up further ahead of the Ryder Cup in 2023.

Rory McIlroy has been a fierce opponent of LIV Golf, and speaking on Wednesday, ahead of the Italian Open, he reiterated his stance on selection for the prestigious team event.

"If I have said it once, I've said it a hundred times: I don't think any of those guys should be on the Ryder Cup team," he said.

However, U.S. Open champion Fitzpatrick, McIlroy's European team-mate, does not agree.

McIlroy is set to play the Ryder Cup for the seventh time and already has four triumphs to his name. On the other hand, Fitzpatrick has only been on the losing team, in both 2016 and 2021. 

"I just want to win the Ryder Cup," Fitzpatrick said. "I want to be part of the team myself, but I want the 11 best guys we can get.

"I'm not really too bothered about where they are going to come from. I just want to make sure that we win, and I think that's what's most important.

"I know other guys might not necessarily agree with that, but I know the winning feeling is worth more than any sort of arguments you might have with other players.

"There's one that I had a conversation with last week – I told him I'd happily have him on the team. I'd have no issues."

Bernd Wiesberger, Paul Casey, Lee Westwood, Sergio Garcia and Ian Poulter were all team-mates of McIlroy and Fitzpatrick in Europe's 2021 team and have each since played LIV Golf events.

Rory McIlroy says his relationships with several former Ryder Cup team-mates have strained by their decisions to join the LIV Golf series.

Five members of Europe's team for the 2021 tournament, at which they were well beaten by the United States at Whistling Straits, have joined the controversial Saudi Arabia-backed circuit.

Four of those five – Ian Poulter, Lee Westwood, Sergio Garcia and Bernd Wiesberger – are part of the field for this week's BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth.

The presence of LIV golfers at the DP World Tour's flagship event has been criticised by some players, with former world number one Jon Rahm and defending BMW PGA champion Billy Horschel both hitting out at their participation. 

McIlroy has been a fierce defender of the PGA Tour amid the divide with LIV Golf, and admits he has grown distant with many of his counterparts on the breakaway circuit. 

"I wouldn't say I've got much of a relationship with them at the minute," McIlroy said of his former Ryder Cup team-mates.

"But, like, I haven't done anything different. They are the ones that have made that decision. I can sit here and keep my head held high and say I haven't done anything differently."

Having declared last month that it would be "hard to stomach" LIV players joining the field at Wentworth, McIlroy was more diplomatic this time around, adding: "They are here. They are playing the golf tournament. 

"My opinion is they shouldn't be here, but again that's just my opinion.

"But we are all going to tee it up on the first tee tomorrow and we are all going to go play 72 holes, which is a novelty for them at this point, and then we'll go from there.

"If you're just talking about Ryder Cup, that's not the future of the Ryder Cup team. They've played in probably a combined 25, 30 Ryder Cups, whatever it is.

"The Hojgaards [brothers Rasmus and Nicolai], Bobby Mac [Robert MacIntyre], whoever else is coming up, they are the future of the Ryder Cup team. That's what we should be thinking about and talking about."

Meanwhile, the DP World Tour's chief executive Keith Pelley has hit out at comments from Westwood and Garcia after the two men claimed the DP World Tour is nothing more than a feeder circuit for the PGA.

Garcia, Europe's record points scorer in the Ryder Cup, recently declared the DP World Tour to be just the fifth best circuit in world golf.

"It's unbelievable," Pelley said. "Let's look at the facts. If the metric determining the top tours in the world is just money, then the number one tour is the PGA Tour, always has been. You could argue that the LIV Invitational Series is number two.

"But The Asian Tour, $22.5m; Korn Ferry Tour; $20m; Japan, $28m; Australia, $5.8m; Sunshine Tour, $7.4m. Totalling all their prize funds together comes to just half of our tour. So even if the only metric is money, how possibly could we ever become number five?

"Is this week a tournament that is on a feeder tour? A tournament that has sold-out crowds, television coverage around the world in 150 countries, five of the top 15 players in the world? A tournament with 150 accredited media?

"Our first co-sanctioned event with the PGA Tour in Scotland, where 14 of the top 15 players played, would that appear on a feeder tour? I could go on and on."

Pelley also defended his decision to remain aligned with the PGA Tour, adding: "LIV Golf and the PGA Tour are involved in a power struggle for our sport.

"It is corporate America versus a sovereign state and a conflict fought out with eye-watering sums of money. I often get the question, why can't we work with both the PGA Tour and the Saudis. We tried.

"But the Saudis remain determined to set up a new series outside of the current ecosystem. That decision has created the conflict we see today, and we chose to partner with the leading tour in the game.

"Some people might not agree with that decision. But it's a decision we feel is the right thing to do for all our members."

Luke Donald has taken a dig at Henrik Stenson by declaring he will keep his word and "see it through" if he is named Europe's Ryder Cup captain.

Stenson was last week stripped of the honour of leading Europe against the United States in Rome next year after electing to join LIV Golf.

Donald is reportedly set to replace the Swede, and the Englishman is under the impression he has "a very good chance" of taking the role after holding talks.

"There’s nothing official to report," Donald told Golfweek. "I have been in talks with Guy [Kinnings, Ryder Cup director] at the European Tour. And that's all I know right now.

"I know I have a very good chance, Thomas Bjorn and a couple other guys are under consideration."

Donald, who never finished on a losing side in the four Ryder Cups he played in, says there is no chance he would take up a deal with LIV Golf after agreeing to captain Europe.

"If I got this captaincy, I would live up to my word and see it through," he said. "Let me put it that way. I wouldn't be doing a Henrik."

The 44-year-old Donald is disappointed Stenson defected to join the Saudi-backed LIV Golf series but would "love" to step in for Ryder Cup duty, with the 2016 Open champion out of the picture.

Donald said: "I've certainly had some of my best moments on the golf course in the Ryder Cups. What an amazing honour it is to represent Europe in the Ryder Cup, and I would love to be a captain.

"That would be a huge honour as well. I was surprised that he would put his name forward if his plan was to go to LIV, which, you know, the rumours, and I hate to talk about rumours, but rumours are that he'd been in contact with the rival tours, whatever they were, and he was very interested.

"And I think everyone knew that, the European Tour knew that. They obviously took his word that he wasn't going to do it. We all have to sign a clause or contract saying that we won't have anything to do with (LIV).

"I'm disappointed I guess that he would put his name forward and then go to LIV. I understand certain guys going to LIV, in certain situations in their careers and stuff, that makes sense. But obviously something big to give up."

Donald revealed he has been offered a chance to be part of LIV Golf, but only for a television role.

He said: "Turned that down pretty quickly. A little bit of a slight on my game. I know I haven't played that great, but thanks but no thanks."

Sergio Garcia has revealed he will "hold off" on quitting the DP World Tour, claiming he remains hopeful he can feature at the Ryder Cup despite signing up to feature in the LIV Golf series.

Garcia is one of several big names to join Greg Norman's controversial breakaway tour in recent months, and declared earlier in July he was "quite clear" on his intention to quit the European circuit. 

At this month's Open, the 2017 Masters champion also said he had all but given up on another Ryder Cup appearance after claiming he was "not wanted" on the European tour. 

Last week, Europe's 2023 Ryder Cup captain Henrik Stenson was stripped of the role after signing up to the LIV circuit, while both the PGA and DP World Tours have looked to sanction players joining the series.

But Garcia has gone back on his earlier pledge, and says he will wait for clarification on his chances of Ryder Cup participation before making any decision on his future.

"When I finished the Open Championship [last] Sunday, I said that I was most likely going to resign my membership from the [DP World] Tour," Garcia told ESPN. "That obviously meant not being eligible for the Ryder Cup because you have to be a member.

"[But] I had a couple of good conversations with guys on the [DP World] Tour, I'm going to hold off on that.

"I want to at least see what's happening when Ryder Cup qualification starts. See what kind of rules and eligibilities they have in there. If I agree with what they [are], I'll definitely keep playing whatever I can on the tour and try to qualify for that Ryder Cup team.

"And if not, then we'll move on. But it is definitely something that is in my mind.

"I told Keith Pelley [chief executive of the DP World Tour]: 'I want to keep being a member of the DP World Tour. I want to play my minimum, still support the tour, still have my eligibilities to make Ryder Cup teams.

"He said: 'That's great, but we've got to do what's best for us'. We'll see what that is."

However, Garcia did express sympathy for Stenson, describing the Swede's Ryder Cup ousting as "sad".

"Now it's gotten a little bit sadder with fines and bans," Garcia added. "What they did to Henrik. It's a little bit sad."

Garcia finished 24th in LIV Golf's first event in London at the start of June before posting a 26th-placed finish in Portland in early July. 

Henrik Stenson cannot feel slighted by losing the Ryder Cup captaincy over his decision to join LIV Golf, according to Europe's 1999 skipper Mark James.

James, who was captain when Europe surrendered a 10-6 lead to suffer defeat at Brookline, said Stenson's move represented a major coup for LIV, but insisted most of the breakaway tour's players were "past their peak".

Stenson became the latest big name to sign up for the controversial Saudi-backed tour on Wednesday, a decision that saw him stripped of Europe's captaincy for the 2023 Ryder Cup in Rome.

The 2016 Open champion wrote on twitter that he disagreed with the decision to remove him from that role, but James feels here was no other alternative.

"I don't think it was so much Ryder Cup Europe making a decision. Henrik was unable to fulfil the obligations of his Ryder Cup captain's contract," James told Stats Perform. 

"If you can't fulfil the obligations, then the agreement is null and void. 

"It's virtually a mutual decision. He can say, 'well, I didn't agree with the captaincy being pulled'. If he can't fulfil his contract, I'm not too sure what he expects. 

"I don't know if Henrik needs the money. It's entirely possible. You hear rumours of a lot of tour players losing vast amounts of money with investments, I'd have no idea if he was one of those. 

"But he'll be getting an awful lot of money for being Ryder Cup captain and stuff associated with that. So for him to jump to the LIV Tour means they're offering him a very, very nice wheelbarrow load of cash."

The LIV series already counted experienced pros such as Phil Mickelson, Lee Westwood, Sergio Garcia and Ian Poulter among its ranks, and James believes the circuit has found it far easier to persuade older players to sign up.

James did, however, note the recruitment of a player set to be Ryder Cup captain represented a significant coup for the Greg Norman-led tour.

"Their strategy is to get people who will come and if you get people in their 40s, they are way more likely to come than people in their 20s," James continued.

"They're building up names on their tour and having a tour full of good, big names, even if they're slightly past their peak, which you could argue that Westwood, Poulter, Stenson and [Paul] Casey and others are, is giving them a star-studded field and it's an inducement to other players to then jump on board. 

"Certainly, [for] a Ryder Cup captain to sign up is a coup. Henrik knows what he's doing. He's not daft. And he's a really lovely guy. I like him a lot. 

"It's a great shame because he would have been a brilliant captain. And that ship now has sailed and it's a pity. It would have been a real jewel in a glittering career."

Attention will now turn to Ryder Cup Europe's efforts to replace Stenson, which 2021 skipper Padraig Harrington said on Wednesday will be "no issue".

James agreed with that assessment as he downplayed the importance of the captaincy, adding: "They [LIV] are taking a lot of possible captains away. So we'll find other people to be captain, captain is not all-important. 

"The captain's position is drummed up to be incredibly important. But I think it's overrated, I always have done. 

"Every captain we have, over the last, certainly 15 odd years, everyone thinks they're just going a little extra mile to do something else and everything's a little better. 

"When you get out there on the turf and start playing against Americans, there's only one thing filling your mind, how much you want to beat the Americans, because this is a massive event and it's a huge thrill to play in it and be involved in it."

Henrik Stenson has confirmed that Thomas Bjorn will be his first vice-captain for the 2023 Ryder Cup.

Stenson will lead Europe at the next edition of golf's famous team tournament, which will take place at Marco Simone Golf and Country Club in Rome.

Bjorn captained a European team including Stenson in 2018, as they cruised to an emphatic 17.5-10.5 victory in Paris.

The Dane has been a vice-captain on four previous occasions, and a player three times.

"I'm delighted to be part of the whole Ryder Cup experience once again," said Bjorn.

"I probably thought that after 2018 that was it for me, but Henrik called me to talk about captaincy in general and that led into him asking me if I wanted to do another stint as vice-captain, which I agreed to. I'm excited to work with him."

"I have known Thomas for my whole career," said Stenson. "I trust him implicitly and I know any advice he will give me will be honest and direct. He will not simply tell me what he thinks I want to hear and that will be important, so I'm delighted to have him as my first vice-captain for Rome.

"Since the match itself is still over a year away, I know I am going to have a lot of conversations with him about all elements of the Ryder Cup from his experience, both as a vice-captain on previous occasions but also, obviously, as the captain in 2018 when we had a great result.

"I will be depending on him a lot and I'm really looking forward to those chats. He was very happy when I asked him. He was very honoured to be asked and happy to be part of Team Europe again and part of the journey with the players."

Bjorn has full belief in Stenson's captaincy, adding: "I think Henrik will be a fantastic captain. He is so well respected by players and by everyone in the game.

"He is a very hard-working golfer and somebody who is true to himself, and his team will represent that. He has a great sense of humour that the players will take to, and he is very well liked across the whole tour, not just the top where he has played his golf for so many years."

Henrik Stenson will be Europe's captain for the 2023 Ryder Cup, the team announced on Tuesday.

A veteran of five Ryder Cup appearances, Stenson has helped Europe to three successes over the United States in the biennial tournament.

The 45-year-old takes the helm from Padraig Harrington, who presided over Europe's record 19-9 loss to the States at Whistling Straits in Wisconsin last year.

Stenson made his Ryder Cup debut 16 years ago at the K Club in Ireland, clinching the decisive point in a 18.5-9.5 victory for Europe – he also contributed to the successes in 2014 at Gleneagles and four years later at Le Golf National, France.

Having become Sweden's first male major winner at the 145th Open in 2016, Stenson will now also be the first Swede to captain Europe.

Stenson was chosen by a five-man panel that included the three most recent European captains before him, and he was understandably honoured to get such an opportunity.

"I am absolutely thrilled and delighted to be the European Ryder Cup captain – it is a huge honour and I was humbled to get the call confirming the news," he said.

"I would like to thank the selection panel for believing in me and will say to them, and every European golf fan, that I will do everything in my power and leave no stone unturned in the quest to get the Ryder Cup back in European hands.

"The Ryder Cup is golf, and sport, at its very best. I got goosebumps every time I pulled on a European shirt as a player and that will be magnified in the role of captain.

"While it is great for me personally, it is also great for my country and all the players from Sweden who have played for Europe with such distinction since Joakim Haeggman became the first in 1993.

"When I started out as a professional golfer, it was beyond my wildest dreams that, one day, I would follow in the footsteps of legends of the game such as Seve [Ballesteros] and be the European Ryder Cup captain. But today proves that, sometimes, dreams do come true."

The 2023 Ryder Cup will be held at Marco Simone Golf and Country Club near Rome between September 29 and October 1 next year.

Stenson and his 12-man team will go up against the roster assembled by Zach Johnson, who was named the USA's skipper at the end of February.

The United States will be captained by Zach Johnson at next year's Ryder Cup in Italy.

Johnson, a two-time major winner, has represented the USA in five previous editions of golf's prestigious team event.

Having served twice as vice-captain, Johnson will succeed Steve Stricker as the USA aim to retain the Ryder Cup at the Marco Simone Golf Club.

The news was announced in a dramatic video released on the Ryder Cup's official social media channels.

"Where I'm from, you get behind your people, you push your own, you work hard and you wear where you're from as a badge of honour," says Johnson in the clip.

"As we look ahead to the next Ryder Cup, I see nothing but opportunity. To work hard, to get behind one another, and an opportunity to keep the cup.

"I know we're not supposed to win on European soil. Well, I'm used to 'not supposed to'. Not supposed to make it on tour, win two majors and certainly not supposed to make five Ryder Cup teams.

"But here's the thing, I love it when 'not supposed to's', do. And as your captain, you can bet that I'm gonna bring some of that home-cooked, hard-working, Iowa pride to the Ryder Cup."

The USA cruised to a 19-9 victory in 2021 at Whistling Straits, though they have not won in Europe since 1993.

PGA of America President Jim Richerson said: "I am confident that Zach's appointment will be wildly popular with the players as well as throughout American golf circles.

"But more than that, Zach is the calibre of individual that the PGA of America wants representing the United States and our 28,000-plus PGA Professionals on the global stage. He has performed on the biggest stages as a player, a teammate and as a vice-captain.

"He checks every conceivable leadership box and we anticipate that the U.S. Team in Italy will reflect the hard work, grit and selfless determination that have long defined his stellar playing career."

Johnson, 46, won The Masters in 2007 and The Open in 2015. He featured in the Ryder Cup in 2006, 2010, 2012, 2014 and 2016, though only tasted success as a player in the latter tournament.

"To accept this captaincy, to lead this United States Ryder Cup team abroad ー after what we accomplished last year at Whistling Straits ー is simply the greatest honour of my professional career," said Johnson, who has named Stricker as the first of his vice-captains.

"I want to thank the PGA of America Ryder Cup Committee for this special opportunity. As exciting as this is for both my family and me, it is equally sobering to understand the scope of our challenge in Rome, as we have not won on the road in three decades.

"To win, we will have to outplay a European team that will have both ample talent and motivation on their side. I am anxious to dig in and begin the process of putting our team in the best possible position to succeed."

Bryson DeChambeau intends to carry on competing in long-drive tournaments after bowing out at the last-eight stage in his maiden outing.

The Ryder Cup star was knocked out of the Professional Long Drivers of America World Championships on Friday, but plans to enter more events.

DeChambeau, who sits seventh in the Official World Golf Rankings, nailed a best drive of 412 yards at the competition in Nevada.

The 28-year-old, who helped Team USA to a record Ryder Cup victory at Whistling Straits last month, believes taking part in such events will help his all-round game.

"I'm definitely going to continue to keep doing this, and I think these guys that are bigger, better, faster, stronger than me are going to keep pushing me to go faster," the 2020 U.S. Open winner said.

"And I think this is going to translate over really, really well to the PGA Tour. I've learned how to control the golf ball at those speeds, and this is going to translate over to having extreme confidence on Tour in general.

"That's what people don't realise. Even though you're hitting it super far, it's the irons, the speeds you can create with your irons and the shots you can hit off the tee.

"Now with people hitting three wood, drivers, you can hit four irons off the tee, because they're just as far, and I can keep it in the fairway and control it a lot better.

"That confidence is instrumental in having a new level of play on the PGA Tour."

DeChambeau was the biggest hitter on the PGA Tour in 2021, his drives averaging 323.7 yards.

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