McIlroy prepares to ‘stomach’ LIV Golf players at Wentworth
ATLANTA (AP) — Rory McIlroy set the tone for a contentious week at Wentworth for the BMW PGA Championship when he considered 18 players from Saudi-funded LIV Golf who took part in the tour’s showpiece event. European.
At his press conference on Sunday after winning the FedEx Cup, McIlroy explained why he didn’t mind when he was considered the PGA Tour’s strongest supporter as he tried to face LIV Golf. And then he targeted LIV players.
“I hate how it does to the game of golf. I hate that. I really do,” McIlroy said. “How difficult it is going to be for me to go to Wentworth in a few weeks and see 18 there. It just doesn’t suit me.
The list includes Ryder Cup teammates Lee Westwood, Ian Poulter, Sergio Garcia, Graeme McDowell, Bernd Wiesberger and Martin Kaymer. Westwood forcefully and precisely defended his desire to play a prestigious event like Wentworth. No other top European player has supported the circuit at home as he has during his career.
Most curious are the Americans on the pitch, who often talk about wanting to play less as the reason – with the money – for joining Greg Norman’s league. This list includes Talor Gooch, Kevin Na and Patrick Reed.
Here is the route: Boston area this week. South London next week. Return to the southwest suburbs of Chicago the following week. And it’s by choice.
Then again, the PGA BMW Championship is a chance to win world ranking points because LIV Golf has not been approved for points by the world ranking. Any decision could be nine months away, by which time players will have fallen badly.
Gooch is No. 45, one spot ahead of new LIV player Harold Varner III. Patrick Reed, who once considered himself a top 5 player, is now only 50th.
Four LIV players have been cleared to play at the Scottish Open under an emergency stay from a UK court. The European tour has fined them the equivalent of last place money from LIV events until a full hearing early next week.
Meanwhile, European Tour CEO Keith Pelley sent a note to players on Tuesday about his own “strong opposition” to LIV players on the pitch at Wentworth. Pelley said in the memo, which was obtained by golf chainthat LIV players will not be required to play in the pro-am and will not be in any of the streamed groups.
GO AND COME
LIV Golf has recruited six more PGA Tour playersand with fields capped at 48 players, some players aren’t in the Boston area for this week’s event.
Most notable is the absence of Japanese players.
Three Japanese players have participated in all events of the LIV Golf Invitational: Ryosuke Kinoshita, Jinichiro Kozuma and Hideto Tanihara. Now there are none. It comes after heavy courting by former Masters champion Hideki Matsuyama, who said after the Tour championship on Sunday that he would not be going to LIV.
South Africa’s Hennie Du Plessis played in all three. He’s No. 7 on the money list with just over $2.4 million and is not in the Boston-area event. Justin Harding and Travis Smyth are also not on the court, having played the previous three.
Some players are event-to-event, with a multi-year contract. This seems to be the case with Adrian Otaegui and Sihwan Kim. They’re back for Boston after missing the previous LIV event in New Jersey.
Chevron takes over as title sponsor of the LPGA Tour’s first major tournament of the year, moving it from the California desert to Houston and raising the prize money to $5.1 million.
Tournament officials are also revising eligibility criteria to create opportunities for fans around the world. Places are allocated to the winners of the USA Women’s Amateur, UK Women’s Amateur, Asia-Pacific Women’s Amateur, Latin American Women’s Amateur, Augusta Women’s National Amateur and the Chevron Silverado Showdown.
Additionally, Chevron is offering a $5,000 stipend to each player who misses the cut to help with travel expenses.
The tournament will take place from April 20-23 – a far cry from its previous date a week before the Masters – and will be held at the Carlton Woods Club.
Ten players are eligible to start next year in Kapalua on Maui for a Sentry Tournament of Champions that no longer involves current champions.
One of the changes involving “elevated events” with big purses was to expand Kapalua’s field to include anyone in the Tour Championship. The PGA Tour also had this criterion for January 2021 due to a shorter season caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Those from East Lake who haven’t won on the PGA Tour this year: Sungjae Im, Aaron Wise, Viktor Hovland, Cameron Young, Brian Harman, Collin Morikawa, Adam Scott, Corey Conners, Sahith Theegala and Scott Stallings.
The tour still has nine tournaments the rest of the year. Now Young and Theegala will be in the Tournament of Champions without ever having won. Two years ago, that applied to Scottie Scheffler and Abraham Ancer.
WAYS OF MONEY
The 50 players who win PGA Tour cards from the Korn Ferry Tour – whether regular season or the final three-event series – can expect a deposit of $500,000 to start the year.
This is one of the new programs announced by Commissioner Jay Monahan last week. Everyone with a full card gets $500,000 which is deducted from their earnings so they don’t lose money.
It is an advantage for the bottom. This season, the PGA Tour had 163 players earning $500,000 or more. This compares to 42 players who won less than $500,000 playing at least 15 tournaments.
For players who had 15 or more starts, Joshua Creel made just four cuts in 22 tournaments in his rookie season and earned $115,976.
Kyle Stanley was not a returning member (he was in the top 125 the previous year). Stanley won $188,048 in 18 tournaments. At the end of the season, the tour would have earned him $311,952 under this program.
Since the PGA Tour returned from the shutdown caused by the COVID-19 pandemic in June 2020, Xander Schauffele has not had an above-par final round in a regular PGA Tour event. … A big year is followed by a little break for Rory McIlroy. He travels to England next week for the BMW PGA Championship, followed by the Italian Open to see the course that will host the Ryder Cup next year. After a week off, he played for Dunhill Links in Scotland with his father. He would have two weeks off before the CJ Cup in South Carolina, which McIlroy won last year in Las Vegas. … Keita Nakajima and Rose Zhang are the recipients of the Mark H. McCormack Medal for being the top-ranked amateurs for the most weeks this year.
STATS OF THE WEEK
Players who finished 1-2-3 in the Players Championship — Cameron Smith, Anirban Lahiri and Paul Casey — are now part of LIV Golf.
“I know my best players are good enough to win any tournament against anyone on any golf course. It’s something I can remember today. – Rory McIlroy after rallying six strokes behind to win the Tour Championship.
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