But it seems the hostility moved up another level last week. With no party coming out of the event looking totally above reproach.
The DP World Tour were unable to ban LIV players from the crown jewel of their tournament schedule, at Wentworth last week. This was due to an injunction being placed in favour of the players playing on the Saudi backed tour, with the case being heard in February as to whether LIV golfers should be allowed or banned from playing in DP World Tour events. So, more than 15 players from the LIV tour teed it up and competed against players from both the PGA Tour and the DP World Tour.
This led to some feisty comments being fired across from Rory McIlroy, Billy Horschel and Jon Rahm. All three saying in unison that the unwelcome players have cited the following reasons for joining the tour; to play fewer events over the year and to stay at home more and spend time with their families. Yet here they were, playing an event far away from home. What really rankled Mr McIlroy and Mr Rahm was that these individuals had taken the King’s shilling, they had been significantly financially compensated for moving across to the new tour, so money was not an issue (but Official World Ranking Points are).
The aforementioned three also felt that the inclusion of these players meant that regular DP World tour players were being squeezed out of the event due to the inclusion of these rebel players. Which I feel is where things turn a touch hypocritical; if anybody is going to make the derisive comment about money hungry tournament professionals chasing the mighty dollar around the world it probably shouldn't be three of the richest players in the sport today. After all Rory McIlroy last month pocketed $18 million for his FedEx win, doesn't his inclusion in the BMW PGA championship squeeze a player out.
I know this is a stretch, because the event is stronger for the inclusion of McIlroy, Horschel and Rahm. It does strike me as a point that probably should be left alone since it is actually the one thing that all of the tournament professionals across the world have in common, it is their chosen profession, which is to earn money. The real fact is, the LIV players shouldn't really have been allowed to compete at Wentworth last week.
The common ground I mentioned earlier, occurred between Billy Horschel and two Ryder Cup stalwarts namely Ian Poulter and Lee Westwood. The ‘They shouldn't be playing in this event because they haven't supported the DP World Tour’ argument is a lot weaker here because Poulter and Westwood have supported the European Tour for the last 2 1/2 decades. The exchange between Horschel and Poulter was particularly poignant where Poulter, commented to the media, saying that I've been friends with a lot of players around the world and their friendship means a lot to him, that friendship shouldn't be influenced by a business decision which a professional golfer has made. Billy Horschel agreed, which is the first time I've heard players from both sides agreeing to disagree.
Everyone as heard the old adage, “if you don't have anything nice to say don't say anything at all.” Which is advice McIlroy would have done well to heed. He made what was a humorous comment, having a dig at the rival tour by saying that the visiting players would be tired on Sunday because it was the 4th day of the Championship. The jibe being that the Saudi backed tour only plays 54 hole events. Then the tragic passing of Queen Elizabeth occurred, Friday’s play being cancelled as a mark of respect for the occasion, and the BMW PGA Championship was reduced to 54 holes.
As I said, no party is leaving Wentworth a winner, of course with the exception of Shane Lowry who won the event with some sublime golf being played on Sunday afternoon.