Sept. 6 (Reuters) – This week’s BMW PGA Championship continues the intense power struggle that will shake golf to its core, as players on both sides of the divide battle it out on the lush fairways of Wentworth.
A stellar field assembled for the DP World Tour (formerly the European Tour) blue riband tournament near London, but on and off the course some of the most familiar players could receive a frosty reception. There is a nature.
Seventeen players, including Ryder Cup heavyweights such as Ian Poulter, Lee Westwood and Sergio Garcia, who have jumped on the independent LIV Tour, practice teeing at Wentworth.
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The mighty PGA Tour has already banned them from participating in LIV events, but Europe’s DP World Tour attempts have so far been unsuccessful.
That means one of the LIV Tour’s fiercest critics, five-time major champion Rory McIlroy, will face some of his former mates at Wentworth this week.
“I hate what it does to the game of golf,” the Northern Irishman said recently of LIV, saying it would be “hard to stomach” playing with them at Wentworth. added.
“It just doesn’t suit me,” added McIlroy, who has a big following this week.
Europe’s 2014 Ryder Cup captain Paul McGinley went even further, accusing LIV defectors of feeling “entitled”.
“The key to the outrage felt by the regular non-LIV members of the DP World Tour is that these people who have received large sums of money from LIV have no right to come back and take the place of the players who support our tour. It’s something I think there is, week after week,” he told The Times.
“LIV players will not participate in the €2-3m tournaments in the Czech Republic or Switzerland, but they will participate in the £6million tournament in Wentworth.
“This has caused a lot of outrage. (DP World Tour CEO) Keith (Perry) has spoken to virtually every player. Nobody wants an LIV player in a tournament. ”
Wentworth’s defending champion, American Billy Horschel, has accused LIV players returning to elite DP World Tour events of being ‘hypocrites’.
No LIV players were invited to Wednesday’s Pro-Am at Wentworth, and Germany’s Martin Kaymer has opted out of the tournament.
But Briton Poulter and Spain’s Garcia remain bullish.
“What I try to do is support the European Tour and that’s all I can do,” said Garcia of Spain.
The DP World Tour may struggle for exposure, but this year’s BMW PGA Championship will at least take center stage.
Organizers hope LIV players won’t charge the winner’s check in the $8 million event, with players like McIlroy, US Open champion Matt Fitzpatrick, Jon Rahm, Victor Hovland and Horschel on the field. Your wish may come true by being there.
But whatever happens on the course, what happens inside the clubhouse can be just as fascinating.
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Reported by Martin Harman.Edited by Ken Ferris
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