Ryder Cup 2023: 6 surprising players you won’t see on Team Europe
The Ryder Cup squads for both Team USA and Team Europe are officially set, with captains Zach Johnson and Luke Donald now having the 12 golfers who they hope can help lead them to victory.
While each member is worthy of the selection, there are always a few players left on the outside looking in.
We’ve already talked about some of the so-called snubs left off Team USA, so now we’re diving into some of the surprising players you won’t see on Team Europe.
Although not all snubs, the below list includes young up-and-comers, to more well-known Ryder Cup veterans. So take a look at who won’t be in the tournament when it tees off from Marco Simone Golf and Country Club on Sept. 29th.
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Surprising players not chosen for Team Europe’s Ryder Cup team
Arguably the biggest snub left off of Team Europe, no one would blame the 30-year-old Meronk for being a little sour after not hearing Donald call his name. Not only was Meronk 5th on the European Points list, but he also won this year’s Italian Open at the very course hosting the Ryder Cup (Marco Simone). When you add in his titles at both the Australian Open and last year’s Irish Open, Meronk is the biggest surprise name not included on Team Europe.
Although Rasmus Hojgaard’s twin brother, Nicolai, was selected to Team Europe for this year’s Ryder Cup, Donald didn’t think the former did enough to earn a spot. This is despite winning one DP World Tour event (Made in HimmerLand) in late June, and only missing two cuts (and withdrawing from another) on the DP World Tour this season.
Rasmus’ undoing may have been his poor showings against better competition, however, as he missed cuts in each of the three PGA TOUR events he played in this season, racking up a combined score of 21-over par.
Does Sergio Garcia deserve a spot on Team Europe’s Ryder Cup Team? No. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t a bit odd seeing the veteran stalwart’s name left off the roster given his history in the event. Garcia has been a member of every European Ryder Cup team since 1999 (other than 2010), racking up a career record of 25–13–7 in the event. His 25 victories is the most for overall matches won, which he set during the 2021 event at Whistling Straits.
Given the tension following Garcia’s defection to LIV, even the 43-year-old knew his time was numbered at the event.
“I don’t want to be a burden to anyone and even less in a Ryder Cup. I’d rather be away from that as much as it hurts and make sure that Europe has the best chance of winning than me being there and three or four guys that are going to be there are going to be upset or something.”
Similar to Garcia, it’s difficult to truly make an argument that Ian Poulter should be on Europe’s 2023 Ryder Cup team. But, just like the Spaniard, Poulter’s name being left off the roster seems odd more than anything.
Let’s not forget that the 47-year-old earned the nickname of “The Postman” from his previous Euro teammates — because he always seems to deliver in big stages at the event. Proof of that comes from his perfect 6-0-1 singles record.
With a career Ryder Cup record of 15-8-2, Poulter excels in this type of format — he just won’t take part in this year’s event. Will he ever get the chance to participate down the road? It’s something Poulter opened up about during an episode of Netflix’s “Full Swing” series.
“I love the Ryder Cup, and if one day I get the opportunity to be Ryder Cup captain, I would absolutely love it. If you do play for LIV, would it be a factor in not being able to be a captain down the road? It would be devastating if it were taken away. That would be really disappointing.”
Another former European Ryder Cup veteran who departed the Tour for LIV Golf, Paul Casey has represented Team Europe at five Ryder Cups in his career. But he also understands that the divide between the two tours has led to a difficult reality that outcasts many LIV players.
With longtime Ryder Cup players like Garcia, Poulter and himself being cast as villains in the eyes of many peers, Casey believes that the rift is leaving this year’s Team Europe void of experienced performers from the competition.
“Let’s say Ian Poulter isn’t playing the golf he wants to play, or has played in the past. And so won’t be part of the 12-man team. I would still have him be involved. That’s what is going to be missing in Rome,” Casey said in August.
As the European player with the most Ryder Cup appearances for winning teams (7 wins, 4 losses), Lee Westwood is yet another name Team Europe has moved on from. Had Westwood made this year’s squad, he would’ve surpassed Sir Nick Faldo for most Ryder Cup appearances (11), with the two currently tied.
Additionally, Westwood has the distinction of being a former Team Europe Vice Captain (2018), and first made his debut for the Euro squad in 1997.
Still, he’s 50 years old and hasn’t been in form, so it would’ve been a tough sell for Luke Donald to choose Westy over any of the younger players chosen for this year’s competition.