With players from the PGA Tour, DP World Tour (formerly known as the European Tour) and the LIV Golf Series set to converge and compete at this week’s BMW PGA Championship in England, expect the verbal shots to be flying as frequently as the ones off tees.
Though there will be more to follow, the first few jabs were tossed from the PGA Tour side by Jon Rahm, Billy Horschel and Rory McIlory as well as U.S. Open champion Matt Fitzpatrick, who called the LIV presence at the Wentworth Club “disappointing.”
The defending champion of the event, Horschel, was much more blunt in his criticism of LIV and took specific aim at early PGA Tour defectors Lee Westwood and Ian Poulter (Europeans who will be fan favorites at the BMW PGA Championship) and said they were only playing the event to help their Official World Golf Ranking.
“I don’t think those guys really should be here,” Horschel said. “I honestly don’t think that the American guys who haven’t supported the PGA Tour should be here. Abraham Ancer, Talor Gooch, Jason Kokrak [who withdrew from the event], you’ve never played this tournament, you’ve never supported the DP World Tour. Why are you here? You are here for one reason only and that’s to try to get World Ranking points because you don’t have them [on the LIV Tour]. They decided to go play on [the LIV Tour] tour and they should go play there.”
As Horschel alluded to, LIV golfers are not afforded Official World Golf Rankings points for participating in the upstart circuit. Since a player’s OWGR is one of the main ways to earn a spot into major championships next year, the perception is that lesser players like Ancer and Gooch who don’t have a history of playing at the BMW PGA Championship or other DP World Tour events are only doing so in order to help them qualify for majors.
Rahm said as much when he was asked about LIV golfers participating in the event. “What I don’t understand is some players that have never shown any interest in the European Tour, have never shown any interest in playing this event, being given an opportunity just because they can get world ranking points and hopefully make majors next year,” he said. “They don’t care. They don’t know the history of this event. They are only here because they are trying to get world ranking points and trying to finish in the top 50 [in the world] and that’s clear as day.”
McIlory, who is likely still basking in the glow of winning $18 million as the victor in August’s PGA Tour Championship, was a bit more lighthearted in his criticism of LIV as he simply focused on the circuit playing 54 holes over three days at events instead of 72 holes over four days as the PGA Tour does.
Good stuff — and we’re just getting started.