Hidden Gem: The International Team Needs European Players Like Rory McIlroy For The Presidents Cup

It hasn’t been a pretty year for Rory McIlroy in the slightest. The 28-year-old completed his season on Sunday at the British Masters tied for second after shooting his lowest round of the season (63). The winner, fellow Irishman Paul Dunne, carded a 61 and beat McIlroy by three strokes.

“It was nice to have a chance to win a tournament,” McIlroy said. “The more chances I have like that the better.”

Most average golfers on the PGA Tour would have been happy with McIlroy’s season that concluded with six Top-10 finishes, including a T-4 finish at The Open. But a player of McIlroy’s caliber this season was far from good in any sense, especially after McIlroy’s FedEx Cup and Tour Championship victory to end last season.

McIlroy did end this 2016-17 campaign on a high note when he played some of the best golf we have seen all season. He shot 67 and 69 the first two rounds of the British Masters, before turning on the accelerator and going low with scores of 64 and 63 to wrap up the weekend.

There was zero hint of any injury to McIlroy as he cruised through the field. So it has us wondering why he didn’t compete in the Presidents Cup this past weekend. Clearly, McIlroy figured something out with his game and the International team could have used another soldier against the uphill battle they faced when taking on the U.S. squad. But according to the Presidents Cup rules, European players are excluded from being selected for this event…which is absurd, to say the least.

According to the tournament rules, international players from Europe (this includes Asia, Africa, Central America, South American, Oceania, Mexico and Canada) cannot be selected to play in the event.

This is why the rules must be changed to the Presidents Cup format to allow European players like McIlroy to compete. This years event can’t be called an exhibition, but rather an execution. And even though the U.S. provided some fun moments for the fans, it made for boring television at the end of the weekend.

The International team carried only two golfers from the Official World Golf Rankings Top-10 – Hideki Matsuyama and Jason Day. The U.S. had four in Dustin Johnson (No.1), Jordan Spieth (No.2), Justin Thomas (No.4), and Rickie Fowler (No.8). All four were tremendous forces in delivering an easy win to the U.S. on its home soil.

Matsuyama struggled during the Presidents Cup as he was only able to capture one victory on the final day against Justin Thomas in the singles match. That match was the only loss Thomas suffered on the week. Day accounted for one victory in the singles matches and recorded a tie with playing partner Marc Leishman in the foursomes on Day 1.

If the Presidents Cup allowed for European players to be added, then Henrick Stenson (OWGR No. 9), Jon Rahm (No.5), Sergio Garcia (No.10), and McIlroy (No.6) would have been available for the International team.

Would McIlroy and others have made a difference on the International side? Yes, probably…but that doesn’t mean the International team would have won. The United States was chock full of young players and the ability to score at will. But they may not have won so handily as the 19-11 final score indicated.

The Presidents Cup was made to compete with the Ryder Cup and give other countries a chance to compete against the US, but if it’s completely one-sided what’s the entertainment in that?

You have to take into account that McIlroy thrives in this team environment just like his youthful counterparts on the U.S. side. McIlroy has a career 6-4-4 record in the Ryder Cup and plays exceptionally well in both singles and foursome events. If he brought that same level of golf he played at the British Masters to the Presidents Cup then the U.S. would have been in for some trouble during any matchup that featured the Irishman.