Lee Westwood will demand more control over the make-up of Europe’s Ryder Cup team if he captains the side in Rome in 2023. Westwood is the strong favourite to be asked to pick up the pieces after the record defeat inflicted on Padraig Harrington’s team.
While he praised Harrington’s leadership in difficult circumstances in the aftermath of what he admitted was a “blowout”, Westwood felt he sold himself short with three wildcards he asked for.
US captain Steve Stricker had twice as many at his disposal and ended up with exactly the team he wanted. Europe walked into a hurricane with an umbrella after leaving out the likes of Justin Rose, Henrik Stenson and Alex Noren.
The Americans would have represented a daunting opponent in their own backyard whoever Harrington had selected but Westwood wants more flexibility to shape the side.
“Four, four, four my first thought would be – four off the Euro list, four off world list and four picks,” said Westwood.
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“Different captains have different ideas and that’s the nice thing about playing under 11 different ones.”
There is merit to Westwood’s thinking. With the European Tour effectively a feeder operation to the mighty PGA Tour now, the number of players drawn from Europe could even be reduced further. Bernd Wiesberger, the last qualifier off the domestic list, did not contribute a single point on his debut but Westwood maintains there needs to be a balance.
“There’s got to be some sort of qualifying because you want your players to play under pressure,” said Westwood.
“If you can play under pressure and qualify for the team you can come out here and represent the team when you get under the heat.”
Westwood, who came back from two down with four to play to beat Harris English in his Sunday singles match, reluctantly accepts his own 24-year Ryder Cup playing career is almost certainly over. Having served as an assistant captain in 2018, the top job – and the daunting challenge of stopping an American unit that could be even stronger in two years’ time – beckons.
“I assume I’ll get three or four months to think about it but people keep coming up and saying: ‘Are you going to be the captain in Rome?’” said Westwood.
“I’d prefer to play but Father Time’s not kind is he? I’m 49 in April. Next time the Ryder Cup comes around I’ll be 50. It will be old to be playing Ryder Cup won’t it?
“It might be the last match I’ve played in the Ryder Cup. I’d rather it wasn’t but the likelihood is it is.
“Last time in Paris I played terribly, was able to win my singles and we won the Ryder Cup so I was on cloud nine. This one I played amazingly but if feels really bad. I’d much rather go winless and win the Ryder Cup any day of the year.
“We are individuals and play a selfish game for ourselves all year round but as a team it’s something special – we all feel it. You saw Rory [McIlroy]’s tears. There were many others who cried, me included.
“I really hope in two years’ time we can turn the tears of sadness into tears of joy. I’m just hoping we can get our revenge next time.”
Rahm expressed his desire to partner Sergio Garcia again in Rome after the Spanish duo combined for three victories together.
Garcia, 41, who broke the Ryder Cup win record in Wisconsin, knows the team will evolve but is still planning to be around then. “I think I’ve got one or two more in me,” he said.