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LIV Golf defectors knew the risks when they decided to ditch the PGA Tour for the Saudi-backed league. They knew the PGA Tour could ban them from competition (it did), just as they knew the major championships could restrict them from playing (they didn’t).

Another factor in this whole mess is whether or not the LIV Golf participants would still be able to play in team events such as the Ryder Cup. Based on United States team captain Zach Johnson’s recent comments, it isn’t looking good for them.

U.S. Ryder Cup captain Zach Johnson lays down the law with LIV Golf

Phil Mickelson warms up before the LIV Golf event in Portland.
Phil Mickelson practices on the driving range prior to the LIV Golf Invitational – Portland at Pumpkin Ridge Golf Club | Charles Laberge/LIV Golf/via Getty Images

The divide between the PGA Tour and the Greg Norman-led LIV Golf Invitational Series continues to widen. LIV Golf keeps adding to its growing roster by poaching more PGA Tour stars, while Tour commissioner Jay Monahan has thrown the hammer down by suspending the defectors indefinitely.

Monahan doesn’t have the same power when it comes to the Ryder Cup, though. Golfers earn Ryder Cup points through the PGA of America, which isn’t the same entity as the PGA Tour.

On the American side, the top-six players in Ryder Cup points at the end of the year automatically qualify for the event. The captain fills out the remainder of the roster with six picks of his own.

Johnson, the U.S. captain for 2023, spoke ahead of this weekend’s John Deere Classic at TPC Deere Run (per ESPN) and made it clear LIV Golf participants most likely won’t be involved in next year’s Ryder Cup.

So what I know is this: In order to play on the Ryder Cup team whether you’re top-six or a [captain’s] pick, you must garner Ryder Cup points through the PGA of America. In order to garner Ryder Cup points through the PGA of America, you have to be a member of the PGA of America. The way that we’re members of the PGA of America is through the PGA Tour. I’ll let you connect the dots from there.

Zach Johnson

Team Europe captain Henrik Stenson hasn’t yet commented on the matter, so Ryder Cup veterans Ian Poulter, Sergio Garcia, and Lee Westwood still have a chance to compete in next year’s event. Americans Dustin Johnson, Patrick Reed, Bryson DeChambeau, Brooks Koepka, and others may be out of luck, though.

The LIV Golf defectors better hope this rival league lasts, because they’re running out of other places to play.

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