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Rory McIlroy believes the absence of exiled LIV golfers allowed Europe’s young guns to flourish as he welcomed a new era in the Ryder Cup.

Lee Westwood, Sergio Garcia and Ian Poulter were excluded from this year’s match after resigning their DP World Tour memberships amid mounting fines and suspensions for playing in the Saudi-backed LIV league.

The trio – all legends for the continent – sent congratulatory messages to Luke Donald after his refreshed team dominated the US 16.5-11.5 to stretch Europe’s unbeaten home run beyond 30 years.

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McIlroy basked in his redemption from his heartbreak at Whistling Straits as top scorer in Rome, while rookies Ludvig Aberg, Nicolai Hojgaard and Bob MacIntyre all delivered points as Europe reclaimed the trophy in style.

In what was ultimately yet another one-sided home victory in this contest, McIlroy, Jon Rahm and Viktor Hovland contributed a combined 10.5 points out of the 16.5 total.

And McIlroy insists that the absence of Westwood, Garcia, Poulter and co. emboldened Europe’s biggest stars to shine in this year’s match at Marco Simone Golf & Country Club.

“They’ve had unbelievable Ryder Cup careers and they’ve made their choices, and they’ve done what they’ve done and no one can take away the impact that they’ve had for the European team over the years,” he said as the dust settled in Rome.

“But I feel like this week, not having those big personalities in the team room let other guys have that chance to flourish and to shine: Viktor, Jon, myself.

“There wasn’t a ton of space taken up in that room by some of the other big personalities and I think that just let the rest of the team just sort of flourish.

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“It’s a young team, we can all grow together. I could potentially be the oldest person on the team next time. It’s a new era and it’s a pretty good one.”

Shane Lowry, who scored 1.5 points from three in his second Ryder Cup, agreed with McIlroy’s take.

“I think not having those guys there this week gave certain guys the opportunity to be something different in the team room and I think that made a big difference,” Lowry said.

“We have had three of the top four players in the team room this week. If those other guys were in the team room, they are obviously big Ryder Cup legends and have been amazing, but maybe Jon, Rory and Viktor wouldn’t have been what they were this week.”


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Ben Parsons joined bunkered as a Content Producer in 2023 and is the man to come to for all of the latest news, across both the professional and amateur games. Formerly of The Mirror and Press Association, he is a member at Halifax Golf Club and is a long-suffering fan of both Manchester United and the Wales rugby team.

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