Rory McIlroy with Sergio Garcia. Sam Greenwood
Brooks Koepka should be included on this year’s US Ryder Cup team. That’s the opinion from across the aisle of European Ryder Cup stalwart Rory McIlroy. As for LIV golfers playing for the host team this September in Rome, that’s another story.
Or, actually, the same old story.
Fielding a question about whether his opinion has shifted on including European players who have joined the LIV Golf League, McIlroy pivoted swiftly to the outlook on the American side of the equation. It probably shouldn’t be much of a surprise that he thought his Jupiter, Florida, neighbour had earned the right to play for Zach Johnson’s US team. Koepka won the PGA Championship two weeks ago and tied for second at the Masters to rise to second in the US Ryder Cup points standings behind Scottie Scheffler.
“I certainly think Brooks deserves to be on the United States team,” said the four-time major winner who is competing in this week’s Memorial Tournament. “I think with how he’s played, I mean, he’s second in the US standings having only played two counting events. I don’t know if there’s anyone else on the, you know, on the LIV roster that would make the team on merit and how they’re playing. But Brooks is definitely a guy that I think deserves to be on the US team.”
McIlroy, ranked No. 3 in the world, said he hasn’t changed his mind about former DP World Tour/turned LIV players participating in the biennial matches. He’s still a flat ‘no’.
“I have different feelings about the European team and the other side and sort of how that has all transpired,” he said, “and, yeah, I don’t think any of those guys should be a part of the European team.”
Given that Henrik Stenson lost his captaincy after he joined LIV — now in the hands of Luke Donald — McIlroy’s position probably isn’t outside mainstream in Europe. It should be noted, too, that McIlroy and Koepka are on good terms, even as they play on opposing tours. They played a nine-hole practice round together at Augusta National Golf Club prior to this year’s Masters.