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The DP World Tour’s flagship event, the BMW PGA Championship, begins at Wentworth this week, but it's already proving controversial.
That is largely down to the appearance of 18 LIV Golf players at the event. Last week, DP World Tour CEO Keith Pelley confirmed his stance on the LIV Golf players taking part in the tournament – namely, that they would be excluded from the pro-am, encouraged not to wear LIV Golf apparel and would not be included in TV featured groups.
Video: What Is LIV Golf?
Now, according to a report from The Telegraph’s golf correspondent, James Corrigan (opens in new tab), there has been a tense exchange between Pelley and LIV Golf players including Lee Westwood, Ian Poulter and Sergio Garcia at the Tour's AGM that took place on Monday morning at Wentworth.
The report states that players flew to the meeting immediately after the Boston LIV Golf Invitational Series event in a plane chartered by the Saudi-backed organisation. However, while the players were reportedly looking for clarity over the Tour’s strategic alliance with the PGA Tour, as well as any further sanctions that may be coming their way after signing up for the Series, it seems it wasn’t forthcoming.
The report quotes an unnamed DP World Tour player, who said he was impressed by the way Pelley handled the meeting. He said: “KP batted well. He stuck his ground and handled it with aplomb." However, that apparently wasn’t the view of everyone in attendance, with one LIV Golf player reportedly saying: “We didn’t get in as many questions as we wanted and Keith just kept replying that ‘we’re in the middle of an ongoing legal case, so I can’t give you an answer.’ He also said that the DP World Tour was a pathway to the PGA Tour, but wouldn’t say ‘feeder tour’. At least, his answers are down in writing now.”
LIV Golf players who haven’t resigned their PGA Tour memberships have been suspended from the Tour, and it has now been confirmed that the bans will be extended for the 2022/23 season. Meanwhile, an injunction placed on the DP World Tour means it is unable to suspend the LIV Golf players pending the outcome of a hearing to determine the fate of the players, which is slated for February.
With the legal position up in the air, some LIV Golf players have taken advantage of an exemption category to tee it up in this week’s tournament. Before that, though, the players have reportedly vowed to try again to seek clarity from Pelley at a players' meeting scheduled for Tuesday. The report states an insider said: “Keith has said he will spend the entire hour taking questions on the ‘strategic alliance’ and LIV and any other concerns. The rebels might find it easier to probe for their answers in that less formal setting. It should be even spicier.”
After that, attention should finally turn to the matter at hand – competing for a share of the $8m purse at the prestigious tournament. Even then, the atmosphere threatens to be awkward at times, with the likes of Rory McIlroy and Matt Fitzpatrick stating their reservations about the presence of the LIV Golf players.
However, one glimmer of light for the players came following a Sunday Times article by Paul McGinley in which he claimed that most players didn’t want the LIV Golf players in the tournament. Several players then responded by saying they don’t have a problem with their appearances.
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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