Ian Poulter has insisted his Ryder Cup days are far from over, while dismissing any sense he has turned his back on the biennial joust between Europe and the US by signing for LIV Golf.
Poulter, an iconic figure for the European team, is at the forefront of a legal challenge to the DP World Tour aimed at allowing LIV golfers to feature on that circuit. Regardless of the outcome of that, the assumption is Poulter, Sergio García, Lee Westwood and other LIV rebels will not feature in the Ryder Cup ever again. Rory McIlroy has been firm in his belief that the Ryder Cup should be a LIV-free zone.
Poulter, speaking in Miami before the final LIV event of 2022, has other ideas. “We can still qualify for the team as far as I’m aware,” Poulter said. “Unless we’ve been told we can’t qualify, then I’m still ready to play as much as I possibly can and try and make that team.”
Speaking in the Guardian this week, McIlroy said he felt a sense of “betrayal” by European teammates who had at least jeopardised their Ryder Cup futures by accepting LIV’s lucrative overtures.
“Look, my commitment to the Ryder Cup I think goes before me,” added Poulter. “I don’t think that should ever come in question. I’ve always wanted to play Ryder Cups and have played with as much passion as anyone else that I’ve ever seen play a Ryder Cup. I don’t know where that comment really has come from, to be honest.”
Henrik Stenson, who was briefly Europe’s Ryder Cup captain, has firmly denied he used the position as leverage for a move to LIV. Phil Mickelson was accused by McIlroy of issuing “propaganda” when asserting LIV was trending upwards against a downward spiral for the PGA Tour. Mickelson – more confident than he has looked at any point since joining LIV – was not of a mind to publicly joust with the Northern Irishman.
“I think a lot of Rory,” Mickelson said. “I really have the utmost respect for him. “Maybe I shouldn’t have said stuff like that, I don’t know. But if I’m just looking at LIV Golf and where we are today to where we were six, seven months ago and people are saying this is dead in the water.
“Here we are today, a force in the game that’s not going away, that has players of this calibre that are moving professional golf throughout the world and the excitement level in the countries around the world of having some of the best players in the game of golf coming to their country and competing. It’s pretty remarkable how far LIV Golf has come in the last six, seven months. I don’t think anybody can disagree with that.”
Mickelson’s meeting with the Open champion Cameron Smith is the pick of the opening matches of this LIV Team Championship, which begins on Friday. Every player is guaranteed a $250,000 payday from their appearance.