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The DP World Tour’s flagship tournament, the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth, has generated more interest than usual this year, largely because of the appearance of 17 LIV Golf players in the field.
Those players – including Lee Westwood, Ian Poulter, Sergio Garcia and Patrick Reed – are taking advantage of an exemption category to play in the tournament pending the outcome of a legal hearing on their DP World Tour futures, which is due to take place next February.
Their presence this week has not been well received by some players, with fellow attendee Rory McIlroy saying their appearance “doesn’t sit right with me” and Matt Fitzpatrick, who's also appearing, describing the situation as “odd” and “disappointing”. Meanwhile, former World No.1 Martin Kaymer withdrew from the tournament claiming “there will be friction.”
Video: What Is LIV Golf?
However, according to Luke Donald, who’s also teeing it up at the West Course this week, there hasn’t been any tension between the LIV Golf players and others in the field. Speaking ahead of the tournament, the European Ryder Cup captain said: “Yeah, I haven't seen any tension. Obviously friendly with those guys and continue to be friendly and nothing's really changed there, so no worries.”
Donald’s opinion falls into line with other players who, perhaps surprisingly, leapt to the defence of the LIV Golf players following a Sunday Times (opens in new tab) article by Paul McGinley that suggested most players didn’t want those from the Saudi-funded organisation in the tournament. Gonzalo Fernández-Castano asked McGinley not to speak on behalf of the DP World Tour membership, while Scott Hend and Romain Langasque also said they had no issue with LIV Golf players appearing.
That is likely to come as some relief to the rebels, who already face exclusion from the pro-am and won’t be included in TV featured groups for the tournament.
However, it will no doubt be Donald’s comments that resonate most with the European LIV Golf players still harbouring ambitions of appearing in next year’s Ryder Cup. On the subject of potentially selecting LIV Golf players as wild cards, Donald said: "It's hard to answer that because it's all hypotheticals and to be honest I haven't really been spending any kind of my energy on it because there's so many unknowns right now. Once this legal situation passes and then I'll have a better understanding."
Regardless of that, though, Donald explained that he is excited about the prospect of assessing the form of players in contention for the team this week. He said: "Yeah, it's all getting very real. It's great to see the points are starting this week and great week for it to start. Excited to see how the guys get going and obviously be playing close attention to players that have played Ryder Cups and players that are kind of on my radar."
Mike has 25 years of experience in journalism, including writing on sports such as golf, football and cricket. Now a freelance writer for Golf Monthly, he is dedicated to covering the sport’s most newsworthy stories. Originally from East Yorkshire, Mike now resides in Canada, where the nearest course is less than a mile from his home. It’s there where he remains confident that, one of these days, he’ll play the 17th without finding the water. 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.
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