LIV golfers ‘shouldn’t be allowed to come back’ on European Tour – Paul McGinley

Stormy weather provided a fitting backdrop for the opening round of the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth today where players on both sides of golf’s bitter power struggle were in action on the soggy fairways.

he flagship tournament of the DP World Tour (formerly the European Tour) has been overshadowed by the presence of 17 golfers who have signed up for the divisive LIV Tour – the Saudi-backed series rocking golf’s status quo.

Northern Ireland’s four-time major champion Rory McIlroy, one of the favourites for the title, has pulled no punches in criticising some of his former Ryder Cup colleagues who have jumped ship for the LIV Tour riches.

He is joined in a strong field by the likes of US Open champion Matt Fitzpatrick, 2021 Wentworth winner Billy Horschel and Spain’s former U.S. Open winner John Rahm, all of whom have had nothing to do with the LIV Tour.

However, the winner of the title on Sunday could end up being one of those who has thrown his weight behind the eight-event LIV Tour which boasts an eye-popping $255 million in prize-money – dwarfing what is available on the DP World Tour.

McIlroy has said it would be “hard to stomach” playing alongside the likes of Ian Poulter, Lee Westwood and Sergio Garcia at Wentworth and re-stated his opposition yesterday.

He was at least spared playing with them in his opening round, going out with Fitzpatrick and Horschel in front of large galleries hiding under umbrellas as rain tumbled down.

But there was no disguising the tension in the air as the LIV Tour signees began their rounds.

Unlike the powerful PGA Tour, which has suspended players such as Phil Mickelson and Dustin Johnson for jumping ship, the DP World Tour has not yet followed suit with a court case next year likely to decide whether they can play in both.

Former Europe Ryder Cup captain Paul McGinley, who sits on the board of the DP World Tour, said that while some fans might enjoy watching the LIV players at Wentworth, they should not be taking part having opted to take the LIV Tour cash.

“They’ve decided to leave the collective that is the European Tour which is a little bit like a trade union where everybody’s in together and then the value of that collective is used to lever and get commercial opportunities,” the Dubliner told Sky Sports today.

“Should you leave that collective that’s fine, you go on a different path, but you then shouldn’t be allowed to come back and also play as part of a collective that you left and are actually hurting economically.”

On the course, England’s Jordan Matthew was the early clubhouse leader after a seven-under 65.

Austria’s Bernd Wiesberger was the highest-placed of the LIV players on four-under after 14 holes

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