Luke Donald Denies Tension With LIV Golfers At BMW PGA Championship

The European Ryder Cup captain says there’s no issue with LIV Golf players teeing it up at the DP World Tour’s flagship event

Luke Donald talks to the media before the 2022 BMW PGA Championship
(Image credit: Getty Images)

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 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 Hall

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.