Billy Horschel Calls For LIV Golfers To Be Given Spots At The Players Championship

The seven-time PGA Tour winner thinks LIV golfers should be eligible for The Players Championship

Billy Horschel takes a shot at the WM Phoenix Open
Billy Horschel thinks it's time for LIV golfers to be allowed to compete at The Players Championship
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Billy Horschel thinks it’s time for LIV Golf players to be handed an “olive branch” in the form of eligibility to The Players Championship.

The tournament, which many consider the unofficial fifth men’s Major, celebrates its 50th anniversary at this week’s edition. However, while there are many of the world’s biggest stars in the 144-player field for the TPC Sawgrass event, it is undoubtedly weaker because of the absence of LIV golfers.

Cameron Smith, who won the event in 2022, is one of the players to miss out, while there is also no place for two of last year’s four Major winners, Jon Rahm and Brooks Koepka

In an interview with Sky Sports, Horschel admitted that’s less than ideal. He said: “I don't disagree and it's unfortunate, because I love this event. I'm born and raised in the state of Florida, so this has always been a fifth Major to me and I've always seen it as that.”

To begin with, Horschel took an uncompromising his stance against the hopes of LIV golfers to some day return to the PGA Tour. In Augusta 2022, months after LIV Golf's launch, he said “I think they’ve been brainwashed,” before adding: “They feel so adamant that they're going to be back on the PGA Tour. I've had some of them tell me, 'I'll see you on Tour again.' I said, 'No, you won't.'"

Nowadays, the landscape is decidedly different. Earlier in the week, PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan offered an encouraging update on talks between the Tour and the Saudi Public Investment Fund behind LIV Golf, saying they are “accelerating,” and Horschel revealed he had spoken to Monahan around 18 months ago about the possibility of LIV golfers receiving Players Championship invites.

He said: “I did have a conversation with Jay about a year and a half ago about if the Majors were going to let the guys that went to LIV, shouldn't we maybe let them in? If we see ourselves as a fifth Major, which I believe we are, shouldn't we, maybe put out a little bit of olive branch? 

"We had a great conversation about that and I understood his side of it and the PGA Tour side, but I think personally it's tough to say that we don't have all the best players in the world here.”

Jay Monahan and Billy Horschel talking at the Zurich Classic of New Orleans

Billy Horschel says he has pitched the idea of allowing LIV golfers into The Players Championship

(Image credit: Getty Images)

The quality LIV Golf now possesses isn’t generally reflected in the world rankings due to its inability to offer the points, but Horschel doesn't think you need a ranking system to show that some of the best players are missing from this week’s event.

"Take out the world rankings, take out everything,” he said. “Everyone knows by the eyeballs test who the best players are in the world and I think, hopefully, a year from now we will have all the best players back here again playing."

Horschel is grouped with Sungjae Im and Webb Simpson in the opening two rounds at TPC Sawgrass, with the three teeing it up at 9.08am ET (1.08pm GMT) on Thursday.

Mike Hall
News Writer

Mike has over 25 years of experience in journalism, including writing on a range of sports throughout that time, such as golf, football and cricket. Now a freelance staff writer for Golf Monthly, he is dedicated to covering the game's most newsworthy stories. 

He has written hundreds of articles on the game, from features offering insights into how members of the public can play some of the world's most revered courses, to breaking news stories affecting everything from the PGA Tour and LIV Golf to developmental Tours and the amateur game. 

Mike grew up in East Yorkshire and began his career in journalism in 1997. He then moved to London in 2003 as his career flourished, and nowadays resides in New Brunswick, Canada, where he and his wife raise their young family less than a mile from his local course. 

Kevin Cook’s acclaimed 2007 biography, Tommy’s Honour, about golf’s founding father and son, remains one of his all-time favourite sports books.