Rory McIlroy claims LIV rebels will miss the Ryder Cup more than the European team will miss them… as he insists the pain of not playing in the competition ‘will hit home this week’

  • Those participating on the LIV Golf tour were not eligible for the European Ryder Cup team
  • Rory McIlroy claimed the pain of missing the competition will become apparent this week
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Rory McIlroy says the penny will finally drop for the absent LIV Rebels as they watch the Ryder Cup on television this week.

For the first time since 1997, the European squad will not feature Lee Westwood, Sergio Garcia or Ian Poulter after the Cup icons made gains on the breakaway circuit.

While that has taken away the vast experience and presence of Luke Donald’s team space, McIlroy believes the enormity of what those big names gave up last year will be felt most powerfully in the coming days.

The world number 2, who has long been LIV’s staunchest critic, said on Wednesday: ‘It’s definitely a bit strange not having them around. But I think this week it will become clear to them that they are not here, and I think they will miss it here more than we will miss them.

“I think this week is the realization that the decision they made meant they couldn’t be there this week, and that’s hard. The landscape in golf is ever changing and becoming more dynamic, and we’ll see what happens and if they’ll be part of it in the future.

Rory McIlroy believes the absence of Sergio Garcia, Ian Poulter and Lee Westwood from the Ryder Cup will be felt more acutely by the LIV Rebels than by the European team in Rome

Westwood (above), Garcia and Poulter have been regulars for Team Europe in recent years

Garcia is the Ryder Cup's all-time leading scorer

Westwood (left), Garcia (right) and Poulter have been loyal members of Team Europe in recent years

“I always thought leading up to this week it would become clear that they won’t be here.”

Meanwhile, McIlroy is unconcerned about the possibility of a raucous atmosphere at Marco Simone in Rome as Europe tries to avoid a first home defeat since 1993.

The Northern Irishman has often been the target of American fans and once had an abusive spectator sent off during the 2016 match in Hazeltine. He said: ‘I think that’s all part of the Ryder Cup. There aren’t many other examples in golf where that happens, but there is certainly a limit.

“Most fans who come to watch golf are very respectful and know what that line is. No, I have no problem with that. Yeah, we’ve all had our fair share of problems and whatnot over the years, and that’s part of it. Someone once said to me: if you want to be part of the circus, you have to put up with the clowns.’

McIlroy makes his seventh Ryder Cup appearance, the most of any player in Rome this week

McIlroy makes his seventh Ryder Cup appearance, the most of any player in Rome this week

Luke Donald's (left) side hope to bounce back after USA won 19-9 in 2021

Luke Donald’s (left) side hope to bounce back after USA won 19-9 in 2021

McIlroy has backed himself to make a much bigger impact on the fate of Europe following his trials during the Whistling Straits encirclement in 2021. He broke down in tears after claiming just one point from four in his singles match against Xander Schauffele , before starting two strong games. seasons leading up to Rome.

He said: “Coming into 2021, I felt like I was searching a bit. I didn’t feel like I had full control over my playing. If you go back all the way, I gained a lot of confidence and belief in myself that Sunday singles at Whistling Straits, because I certainly didn’t believe in myself at that point.

‘But the rest of my team believed in me. I think I spent a lot of 2021 trying to be something that maybe wasn’t natural for me. I just tried to be myself again and express myself as best I could on the golf course.

“I think the last two years have proven that this is how I’m going to play my best golf. So I’m definitely feeling a lot better about things going into this Ryder Cup and feel like I’m more than capable of contributing more than one point this time.”