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Rich Beem believes that players who have defected to LIV Golf should NOT be ineligible to play in the Ryder Cup, insisting: We want to play your best players.

The 2002 PGA champion will be part of the Sky Sports commentary team at Marco Simone Golf & Country Club near Rome this week and, appearing on the latest episode of The bunkered Podcast, he outlined his objection to players being excluded from the match for playing on the Saudi-funded circuit.

At present, European players who resigned their DP World Tour membership to join LIV are not eligible to play, captain or vice-captain in the biennial contest.

That has created a scenario whereby cornerstones of recent European successes – chiefly Ian Poulter, Lee Westwood and Sergio Garcia – are not involved in this week’s clash, whereas current PGA champion and LIV man Brooks Koepka is on the American side.

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According to Beem, where you play your golf shouldn’t matter when it comes to the Ryder Cup.

“Sadly, the politics got involved and I think we all understand why and where it came from,” he said. “But at the end of the day, as we’ve gotten past that, I think that if you were born in Continental Europe and you’re good enough to play on the team, no matter where you play around the world, you can be on that team if you qualify or the captain picks you. Same thing for the US. If you were born in the US, you qualify for the team or the captain picks you, which happened to Brooks.”

On the subject of the contest’s all-time record points-scorer Garcia, Beem added: “I think should have been on Luke Donald’s radar if he wasn’t. I don’t know the facts about the European side but, from what I understand, I don’t think he was allowed to pick anyone from LIV and I don’t agree with that.

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“We want your best, no matter what the circumstances are. Now, if it’s not a good fit, if the teammates don’t want certain players, that’s one thing but, you know what, I just don’t think there should be any holding back. We want to have our best and you guys to have your best. Then there’s no excuses.

“I want this thing to be what it was meant to be: the best versus the best, regardless of where you hang your hat and play golf. If you’re a club pro, if Luke Donald thought you were the best club pro in the world and you’re going to go out there and take on Xander Schauffele and Patrick Cantlay, go get ‘em.

“It doesn’t matter to me and I think, going forward, that’s going to be the way it is. There may be some players who’ll have something to say about that but we’ve already set the precedent where, if you’re good enough to qualify now, no matter where you play, then we want you.”

Beem added that he believes Koepka will be welcomed into the US team room with open arms this week.

“I don’t think there’s going to be any animosity towards him,” he said. “I think everybody’s going to welcome him. He lives in the same bubble as probably three-quarters of the guys that are on the US side anyways. They still probably run in the same circles. So, it’s not like there’s any animosity towards him. He just plays somewhere else”

• Listen to the full interview with Rich Beem on the latest episode of The bunkered Podcast. Click here to tune-in for free now.

author headshot

Michael McEwan is the Deputy Editor of bunkered and has been part of the team since 2004. In that time, he has interviewed almost every major figure within the sport, from Jack Nicklaus, to Rory McIlroy, to Donald Trump. The host of the multi award-winning bunkered Podcast and a member of Balfron Golfing Society, Michael is the author of three books and is the 2023 PPA Scotland 'Writer of the Year' and 'Columnist of the Year'. Dislikes white belts, yellow balls and iron headcovers. Likes being drawn out of the media ballot to play Augusta National.

Deputy Editor

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