Battle lines drawn at Wentworth as rival tour players set to collide
The DP World Tour has called in favours from all of its top European talent to put on a show of strength at its flagship event in Europe, the BMW PGA Championship, which gets underway at Wentworth on Thursday.
In the face of competition from the Saudi-backed LIV Golf Series, which has succeeded in attracting a significant number of European golfers to its ranks over the last four months, the DP World Tour has called on it big guns, namely Rory McIlroy, Jon Rahm, Victor Hovland and Matt Fitzpatrick, currently ranked nos.3, 5, 10 and 11 in the world, to be on duty at the tournament, which is being held at the iconic Surrey venue from September 8-11.
McIlroy, who won the tournament in 2014, but hasn’t played in it since 2019, said: “The BMW PGA Championship is an event I always love playing – the West Course has been good to me in the past, and the fans are incredibly supportive. I’ve had a consistent year so far and having a chance to win again at Wentworth would help my season-long campaign.”
The previous three winners of the championship, Billy Horschel (2021), Tyrrell Hatton (2020) and Danny Willett (2019), will be back and hoping to do the double, while major champions Shane Lowry, Francesco Molinari and Justin Rose will also be in the starting line-up as the DP World Tour bids to show that it still has the caché to draw in big-name players.
Also playing at Wentworth this week will be 15 players who have all committed to LIV Golf – including Ryder Cup stalwarts Lee Westwood, Sergio Garcia, Graeme McDowell and Ian Poulter – whose members won a legal ruling last month that currently allows them to compete in DP World Tour events without fear of been fined or suspended, as was the case after the first event held at Centurion Club in June.
It is likely that LIV Golf players will be grouped together for the first two rounds, and will be put out early and late to ensure they don’t receive prime-time TV coverage, but that can’t be prevented for the weekend rounds when players go out in order of scores.
DP World Tour chief executive Keith Pelley has made it clear in a memo that while the LIV players will ‘not be given any on-course competitive disadvantage in the shape of unfavourable tee times, they will not be required to play in the pro-am on the Wednesday and will not be in TV featured groups’. Pelley has also requested that LIV golfers don’t wear LIV Golf-branded apparel during the tournament.Although weekend general admission tickets have already sold out, there is still availability for Wednesday’s Celebrity Pro-Am (£30), and the opening two rounds on Thursday and Friday (£40). In addition to live golf, there will be live entertainment from Jax Jones and Razorlight, who will be performing after the golf has finished on Saturday and Sunday respectively.For tickets, visit www.europeantour.com.