As he prepares to make his LIV Golf debut, Lee Westwood has admitted that his hopes of becoming a European Ryder Cup captain hang in the balance.
Long regarded as a certainty to lead the side one day, the former world No.1 may now never get that chance.
Although unconfirmed, it is understood that the DP World Tour – which handles the European interest in the Ryder Cup – could be prepared to issue lifetime bans to all member players who play in the new Saudi-funded, Greg Norman-fronted start-up circuit.
Several DP World Tour players are in the field at the Centurion Club for this week’s inaugural LIV event. This is in open defiance of the tour, which rejected all release requests.
Speaking ahead of Thursday’s opening round, Westwood, 11 times a player in the Ryder Cup, conceded that his participation may have scuppered his hopes of every leading the European side.
“That’s obviously something I have to take into account,” he said. “I’m not sure about playing. I’m 50 next April. But obviously the captaincy, that could be in jeopardy.
“What I would say is that I’m a member of the PGA Tour while I’m [playing] on the DP World Tour and that’s had no effect in the past on people having been captains.
“LIV Golf is another tour, so why should it be any different?”
One of the cornerstones of recent European successes in the Ryder Cup, Ian Poulter finds himself in a similar position to fellow Englishman Poulter.
The architect of the ‘Miracle at Medinah’ in 2012 acknowledged that playing in the LIV Series is an “unknown risk”.
“We don’t know how the DP World Tour are going to view it so obviously it’s a factor,” he said. “I’m as interested as you are to see how it plays out.
“I’d like to think that it wouldn’t [hurt my captaincy chances]. All the golf that I’ve played around the world in all the different countries and different tours that I’ve played on, I don’t see why this should be any different.”