Golf-Key trio's absence won't hurt Europe's Ryder Cup hopes - Azinger

Golf - The 2020 Ryder Cup - Whistling Straits, Sheboygan, Wisconsin, U.S. - September 26, 2021 Team Europe's Lee Westwood, Team Europe's Ian Poulter and Team Europe's Sergio Garcia on the 18th hole after Team USA win the Ryder Cup REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst/File photo

(Reuters) - Europe will be "unfazed" by the absence of Ryder Cup stalwarts Sergio Garcia, Ian Poulter and Lee Westwood when the biennial competition gets underway next week in Italy, golf analyst Paul Azinger said on Thursday.

Garcia, Poulter and Westwood have played a combined 28 Ryder Cups but are part of LIV Golf and resigned from the European Tour, which made them ineligible to play the Ryder Cup at Marco Simone Golf and Country Club near Rome.

But despite not having any them on Luke Donald's 12-player team or serving as one five vice captains, former U.S. captain Azinger does not expect their absence to hut Europe in their bid to reclaim the trophy falling at Whistling Straights in 2021.

"First of all, I think that the team dynamic and the team environment in the European room will be unfazed," Azinger said on an NBC Sports Ryder Cup media conference call.

"The team atmosphere in that lockeroom will be every bit as good, if not better, and it will be right and ready to go. Those guys they are on a mission."

Garcia is the Ryder Cup's record points scorer with 28.5, while Westwood has played a record 11 matches, being part of seven winning teams. Poulter has also played a key role in some of Europe's biggest successes.

Fellow NBC Sports golf analyst Curt Byrum echoed Azinger's comments.

"All they are going to be talking about in the team rooms is about the players that are there and rallying around everybody that's in that team room and they are not even going to be talking about who's not there," said Byrum

"I think both sides will carry on like that."

This year's Ryder Cup runs from Sept. 29 to Oct. 1.

(Reporting by Frank Pingue in Toronto)

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