clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

“They shouldn’t be here.” PGA TOUR golfers speak out against LIV players at BMW PGA Championship

There’s a schism in pro golf, and the players that compete mostly in the United States aren’t happy about the participation of their former compatriots.

Jon Rahm of Spain reacts after an eagle on the 16th hole during the first round of the World Golf Championships - Bridgestone Invitational at Firestone Country Club South Course on August 3, 2017 in Akron, Ohio. Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images

As the BMW PGA Championship tees off this weekend in Surrey, England, PGA TOUR and LIV Golf members will face off against each other in what has already proven to be a contentious tournament without a single stroke having been taken.

The LIV golfers, banned from all PGA TOUR events but conditionally allowed on the DP World Tour, were not allowed to participate in the pro-am tournament on Wednesday that preceded the championship. DP World Tour Tour CEO Keith Pelley also said that LIV golfers would not be in any featured television groups.

The aforementioned condition to participate in this weekend’s event is an Official Golf World Ranking of 60 or higher. OWGR points are not awarded at LIV events, which means that the defecting golfers have to find tournaments that will allow them to play in order to keep their rankings high and stay eligible for majors.

Reigning BMW champ and PGA TOUR golfer Billy Horschel took issue with that strategy this week, calling out several LIV golfers by name. “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. It’s pretty hypocritical to come over here and play outside LIV when your big thing was to spend more time with family and want to play less golf.”

Jon Rahm, the second favorite at DraftKings Sportsbook behind the also-outspoken Rory McIlroy to win the championship, said “What I don’t understand is some players that have never shown any interest in the 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 added that these golfers were taking spots away from dedicated DP World Tour members who “earned it.” McIlroy seconded that, saying “They shouldn’t be here. They’re taking spots away from players that really need spots this week, this is a massive event on the European Tour. There’s guys that have missed because of those players that could have kept their cards and kept themselves in a job for next year.”

The general frustration seems to revolve around the fact that the LIV defectors made such a big deal about playing less golf only to become upset when suspended by the PGA TOUR and then actually make a concerted effort to play more golf by joining events to which they had never previously given a second thought.

Several LIV golfers had also talked about the stress of playing events to keep their rankings and jobs, but after accepting up to hundreds of millions of signing bonuses from LIV, they’re now taking away opportunities for golfers in that exact situation to make money and remain on the tour.

This specific tournament has a special significance to the LIV golfers whose chances to get OWGR points are quickly dwindling, as the winner gets an exemption to the 2023 US Open, as well as the next three Open Championships.