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Lee Westwood backs Rory McIlroy's call to change Ryder Cup eligibility rules

Published 02/11/2016

Lee Westwood, pictured, agrees with Rory McIlroy on the subject of Ryder Cup eligibility
Lee Westwood, pictured, agrees with Rory McIlroy on the subject of Ryder Cup eligibility

Lee Westwood has backed Rory McIlroy's call for a change in the rules regarding Ryder Cup eligibility following last month's defeat at Hazeltine.

Only European Tour members can play on the team, a rule which meant captain Darren Clarke did not have the option of selecting world number 12 Paul Casey, who gave up his membership to concentrate on the PGA Tour.

"I think at the end of the day you want the best possible European players teeing it up in the Ryder Cup," Westwood said ahead of the Turkish Airlines Open in Antalya.

"I can see the reason why they want you to be a European Tour member, but I think it's unfortunate when you have clearly world class/Ryder Cup experienced players missing out because they have chosen to, for one reason or another, live in America or play golf solely in America.

"I can always sympathise with them because I don't see why that personal decision should affect whether you can play in the Ryder Cup or not.

"At the end of the day, you're still European and you still have the passion to play for Europe and represent them.

"If you prove that you're world class on, say, the PGA Tour and not the European Tour, why should that have any bearing on whether you can play or not?"

It appears unlikely that Westwood and McIlroy will get their wish however, with Ryder Cup eligibility one of the ways the European Tour can try to prevent its top stars from playing full time on the more lucrative PGA Tour.

To maintain membership, players are only required to play in a minimum of five tournaments, not including the majors and World Golf Championship events.

McIlroy believes Europe could have done with Casey's form and experience at Hazeltine, where their bid for an unprecedented fourth straight win ended in a heaviest defeat for 35 years.

"It should be the best 12 players from Europe versus the best 12 players from the US," McIlroy told the No Laying Up podcast.

"For me, there shouldn't be anything to do with membership of tours. To have a guy like Paul Casey not on our team when he is playing some of the best golf in the world right now, it definitely hurt us."

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