Rory McIlroy: Jon Rahm must be allowed to play in Ryder Cup

Rory McIlroy and Jon Rahm of Team Europe celebrate following victory with 16 and a half to 11 and a half win following the Sunday singles matches of the 2023 Ryder Cup at Marco Simone Golf Club on October 01, 2023 in Rome, Italy
Rahm and McIlroy were vital to Europe's win at Marco Simone in October - Getty Images/Patrick Smith

Rory McIlroy says the European Tour will have no choice but to rewrite the rules and ensure Jon Rahm can compete in the 2025 Ryder Cup.

The Spaniard stunned golf by completing his £450m ($566.4m) switch to LIV on Thursday, with McIlroy saying he was worried the move would see the sport “cannibalise” itself and only remain relevant when the four Majors are played.

Rahm himself admitted to Telegraph Sport he is unsure whether he will still be eligible to be part of the Europe team that will bid to defend its’ Ryder Cup crown in Bethpage, with Henrik Stenson having to stand down as captain ahead of this year’s event.

But McIlroy has said the rules will have to change to ensure Europe have the best chance of retaining their crown.

“Jon [Rahm] is going to be in Bethpage in 2025 so, because of this decision, the European Tour are going to have to rewrite the rules for Ryder Cup eligibility,” McIlroy told Sky Sports. “There’s absolutely no question about that - I certainly want Jon Rahm on the next Ryder Cup team.

“I’m going to miss competing against him week in, week out. He has got so much talent, he’s so tenacious and he’s a great team-mate in the Ryder Cup. The thing that I’ve realised is that you can’t judge someone for making a decision that they feel is the best thing for them.

“Is it disappointing to me? Yes, but the landscape of golf changed on June 6th, when the framework agreement was announced, and I think because of that it made the jump from the PGA Tour to LIV a little bit easier for guys.”

McIlroy also said he was concerned over how divided golf has become, comparing the sport to boxing as he fears the best golfers in the world will only play together at the Majors.

“That means golf is only going to be relevant four times a year and that’s good for no one in the game,” he added.

McIlroy led the fight against LIV but has become more diplomatic as it appeared a deal had been agreed between the PGA Tour - as well as the DP World Tour - and LIV back in June. However, it appears that uneasy truce is now under serious threat.

‘A huge blow for the PGA Tour’

Rahm’s former Ryder Cup team-mate Justin Rose said the timing of the announcement was “interesting” given negotiations with LIV but said the move was a setback for the PGA Tour.

“It’s a huge coup for LIV and obviously a huge blow for the PGA Tour,” the world No 39 said.

Rickie Fowler, who rejected an offer to join the Saudi tour in August last year, suggested the deadline for a deal between LIV and the PGA Tour is in jeopardy.

“His [Rahm’s] decision doesn’t affect me necessarily, but it’ll be interesting to see how things continue to play out,” Fowler said.

“Timelines of things with the deal deadline being end of the year, it’s hard to really think that goes through just with the timing of it and how much would have to get done between now and then.”

‘I can’t fault him’

Jason Day, the world No 19, defended Rahm amid criticism of the eye-watering sums the Masters champion will now earn but Day admitted that when players move to LIV “a majority of the time it is for the money”.

“I understand some guys do it for the money,” the Australian said. “Unfortunately, we’re going to lose one. It would have been nice to get past this (agreement) deadline and see where this thing fell.

“I can’t fault him for making the decision for himself and his family.”

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