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Jon Rahm is one of a host of big-name players teeing it up at the Wentworth’s West Course in the BMW PGA Championship this week. However, along with the likes of the Spanish World No.6, FedEx Cup champion Rory McIlroy and US Open winner Matt Fitzpatrick 17 LIV Golf players are also in the field.
Their presence has caused disquiet among the latter two, and now, Rahm has had his say on the situation. Speaking ahead of the DP World Tour’s flagship event, the 27-year-old said he believed the LIV Golf players are only appearing this week because Official World Golf Ranking points aren’t available in the Saudi-backed Series.
Video: What Is LIV Golf?
He said: "What I don't understand is some players that have never shown any interest in 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."
Rahm then used the example of another player, Alfredo Garcia-Heredia, who misses out this week while LIV Golf players take advantage of an exemption category to play. He said: “A perfect example, a good friend of mine is the first one out on the entry list right now, Alfredo, a good friend of mine from Spain. Because you have players that, you know, might need World Ranking points are given an opportunity that I don't really agree with, it really, to an extent - I don't know what the word is.
"It doesn't hurt me but it does bug me that somebody who has played over - I think I looked it up, it's 20 DP World events this year, cannot be given the opportunity to play a flagship event because some people that earned it, to an extent, are being given an opportunity when they couldn't care any less about the event. They don't know. 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, and that's clear as day. So to me, there's a difference."
Rahm’s comments closely align with another outspoken critic of LIV Golf, Billy Horschel, who branded some LIV Golf player hypocritical and 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. 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 it."
Not all 17 players were the subject of Rahm’s criticism, and he made an exception for three. He said: “The likes of Sergio [Garcia] and Westy [Lee Westwood] and [Ian] Poulter have spent 20-plus years on the European Tour. I don't necessarily think that denying them the entry to some events is a bad thing, but there is some players, I'm not going to name anybody, but there's some of them that have never shown any interest.”
Rahm’s comments contrast with another of this week's participants, Luke Donald, who denied there was tension between the players. However, with the Spaniard joining a list including McIlroy, Fitzpatrick and Martin Kaymer, who revealed he’d decided not to play in the tournament because “there will be friction,” it suggests that there could yet be some awkward moments before the week is out.
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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