The latest instalment of golf’s war of words has seen Billy Horschel and Jon Rahm make clear their belief that LIV rebels should not be competing in this week’s PGA Championship.
Members of the LIV series – including 15 who played in Boston last week – are in the field at Wentworth, which is permitted until a legal case relating to eligibility is heard. While Rahm sought to distinguish between long-term members of the European Tour – now the DP World Tour – and others, Horschel sees no difference between the rebel players.
“Even though Lee Westwood and Ian Poulter have been stalwarts for the European Tour, I don’t think those guys really should be here,” said the defending champion. “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 [via LIV].
“It’s hypocritical because of what some of these guys have said this week, when they said they wanted to play less golf. 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.”
Horschel, 35, added: “I wouldn’t call Lee Westwood and Ian Poulter hypocrites because they never said they wanted to play less. The guys that have publicly stated they want to play less, those are the hypocrites. Just be clear on that. It’s not every one of them. And there are a few of those hypocrites here this week because they wanted to play less, but they are playing another event that’s not a LIV event.”
Horschel, the world No 15, then turned his attention towards those who advised players to sign for the Saudi Arabia-backed LIV. “Some of these agents led guys down a bad road,” the American said. “They saw dollar signs and they wanted to cash in on their side of it. So I do think some of these agents did, I would say, give bad information. I know a couple of those players sort of regret listening to agents.”
Rahm, the world No 6, offered similar sentiment to Horschel, albeit he has little problem with Westwood, Poulter and Sergio García playing in Surrey. The Spaniard cited the case of his compatriot, Alfredo Garcia-Heredia, who has been denied a Wentworth tee-off time because he is one place outside the eligibility cut-off point.
“There are many players that have been key for European Tour golf and the Ryder Cup that have a lot of collective years on the European Tour,” Rahm said. “Them coming, I don’t necessarily think it’s a bad thing. 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.
“It doesn’t hurt me but it does bug me that somebody who has played 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 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 [in the world] and that’s clear as day.”
It has been announced that the Hero Cup, to be staged in Abu Dhabi in January, will form part of Europe’s build-up to the Ryder Cup. Ten-man teams will compete for Britain and Ireland against Continental Europe in match-play format. – Guardian