LIV Golf : The tone was set for the DP World Tour’s flagship week at a tense AGM on Monday morning as LIV rebels – including Lee Westwood, Ian Poulter, and Sergio Garcia – questioned CEO Keith Pelley.
Eighteen players from the Saudi-funded series will be playing this week’s BMW PGA Championship on the West Course, and although it doesn’t start until Thursday, they’ve already made their presence known.
The Tour anticipated unpleasant scenes as LIV Golf chartered a plane to fly in from Boston overnight to ensure its golfers were at Wentworth Clubhouse in time for the meet.
The play didn’t end at The International until just before midnight UK time – Dustin Johnson holed a 40-foot eagle to claim the $4 million first prize and Westwood pocketed more than $1 million for the fourth – but they were there in Surrey just over 10 o’clock later.
Westwood, García, Poulter, and others called on Pelley to reveal details of the “strategic alliance” with the PGA Tour, as well as issues such as potential penalties coming the way of LIV players after the US circuit issued unlimited bans.
But Pelley was able to protect himself with a court case set to take place in February in which the defectors will seek to overturn the $100,000 fines and suspensions handed down by the DP World Tour – formerly the European Tour in June.
“KP was hitting well,” one Tour player told Telegraph Sport. “He denied it and dealt with it The players said Keith just kept saying ‘we’re in the middle of an ongoing legal case so I can’t give you an answer,””We didn’t get as many questions as we wanted. Keith also said that the DP World Tour is a pathway to the PGA Tour.
Westwood declined to comment when asked about his thoughts on the meeting, though in an interview with Golf Digest last week he made clear his feelings about closer ties with the PGA Tour, particularly the new relationship that will see the top 10 pros at the tournament. The DP World Tour standings at the end of the season earn PGA Tour cards.
There wasn’t much ‘give’. They’ve always been bullies… I was telling Keith and other members of his board how this was going to last 12 months. I told him getting into bed with the PGA Tour was a mistake.”
Westwood and Co say the Tour should have accepted a bid from Saudi Arabia in 2021, which they insist was worth more than $1 billion, and which could have positioned the Wentworth headquarters as a serious challenger to American dominance.
However, Pelley rejected this, informing his members in June that “it was fundamentally not a good deal for the European Tour” and that “the numbers were nowhere near what had been floated in the media and players’ clubs in the past. a few months”. The argument became increasingly personal and inevitably led to resentment on both sides.
Many in the locker room faithful are upset that LIV players have decided to perform at the $8m event at Wentworth, taking places away from their lower-ranked counterparts. A fortnight ago Rory McIlroy said he would be “fighting his stomach” to see the rebels at Wentworth and Matt Fitzpatrick called it “awkward, a bit weird and worrying”.
On Sunday, former Ryder Cup captain and Tour board member Paul McGinley said in an interview that “no golfer on the European Tour wants LIV players to play in our tournaments,” although seven-time Tour winner Gonzalo Fernández-Castaño objected on Twitter against the comment and had to clarify that he was referring to “every player past and present that I have spoken to”.