Ian Poulter has cast doubt on his participation at the 2023 Ryder Cup – but the golfer needs a miracle to qualify for Team Europe anyway.
The Englishman is among a number of European veterans who signed up for the controversial, Saudi-backed LIV Golf series in 2022.
Poulter is famously undefeated in Ryder Cup singles, losing just six of 22 overall matches and inspiring a number of European victories down the years.
However, the 47-year-old’s decision to join LIV makes it all-but impossible for him to feature in Rome this September.
The DP World Tour, which runs Europe’s Ryder Cup team, has stood alongside the PGA Tour in opposition to LIV.
After Henrik Stenson was sacked as captain for joining the breakaway tour, it is safe to say the likes of Poulter, Lee Westwood and Sergio Garcia will not be among new skipper Luke Donald’s six wildcard picks.
They need one of the six automatic qualification spots – and Poulter suggests that even if he made the team, he may consider boycotting the tournament.
“I would love to qualify. Whether I play or not would be a different thing,” Poulter told reporters ahead of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship. “I haven’t given up on anything. If I win these two weeks, who knows?
“I certainly don’t expect to get one of the six (captain’s) picks. Not in any way, shape or form. Which is also a shame. What does that tell you? Whats the story there?”
Poulter is currently eligible for the Ryder Cup as a DP World Tour member, but his status on the European circuit hangs in the balance ahead of a court case in February.
The DP World Tour, formerly the European Tour, has tried to impose sanctions on rebel players such as Poulter, including £100,000 fines and bans from key tournaments.
This was temporarily blocked on appeal and LIV players are currently playing in DP World Tour events, such as this weekend’s Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, and competing for Ryder Cup qualification points in the process.
But a full court hearing in February is set to decide the future of LIV players on the DP World Tour – and subsequently their Ryder Cup chances.
Even if Poulter and co. are allowed to compete in DP World Tour events between February and September, their chances of qualifying for Team Europe are slim.
The six automatic qualification places are filled by the top three players on the European points list and the top three on the world points list, with golfers lower down qualifying if there is any crossover.
As things stand, LIV does not have Official World Ranking Points and its players are suspended from the PGA Tour, making top three on the world points list categorically unachievable.
Meanwhile, European stars such as Rory McIlroy, Jon Rahm, Viktor Hovland, Matt Fitzpatrick, Shane Lowry and Tommy Fleetwood are all competing for automatic qualification.
With those players all inside the world’s top 24, it is difficult to see them being ousted by any of the LIV Golf rebels on current form, even if they played a full PGA Tour and DP World Tour schedule.
That might just be for the best, given Poulter appears to have burned all bridges with Team Europe.
The outstpoken golfer has complained about his treament by the DP World Tour since joining LIV, most recently calling them out for not wishing him ‘happy birthday’.
Tweeting on his birthday last week, Poulter replied to a Team Europe video: “What’s really an “incredible touch” is the Players that helped build the @RyderCupEurope Brand with other players as well. You just can’t bring yourself to say a simple Happy Birthday. @TheSergioGarcia B’day Yesterday. Unfortunately this says so much.”
Given his court battle with the DP World Tour, Poulter earned widespread ridicule for the tweet, and addressed it on Wednesday.
He said: “Through time I have said lots of silly things. Should I have said it? Yes and no. All I did was highlight a fact. There was no other reason.
“Look, 2022 was full of big distractions. And my full focus for 2023 is to have as little distractions as possible, play good golf and enjoy myself. It was a difficult 2022 with everything that is out there in the public domain.
“And as frustrating as that is for me – when I feel that some of it is really unjust – it has been easy to let things boil over inside. Because the whole story has not quite been told.”