Virginia Water, England. Graham McDowell is well aware that he is not the most popular person in Wentworth as he is a member of the LIV Golf contingent that made the DP World Tour’s flagship event a referendum between established tours and the Saudi-backed splinter scheme. .
After his first round at the BMW PGA Championship, he explained that his only desire this week was the need to compete and admitted that he was considering withdrawing from the event given the controversy caused by the inclusion of 18 LIV players. Ultimately, he stressed that it is up to his fellow players, not the media, fans or sponsors, to decide whether he and other LIV players should be allowed to play European tours.
“I should have asked about it in [player-only] Meeting on Tuesday,” said McDowell, who opened in the under-71 group. “But I would like to have a vote among the 320 or so participants and let them decide if I should be here, let them decide if we are useful.”
Full BMW PGA Championship Results
McDowell and other LIV players were fined and suspended from a Eurotour imposed in July by a British referee. Since then, several LIV players have competed in various events including the Scottish Open, but this week’s championship is the largest contingent and they have come under fire from many, including some of their fellow players, for what some consider to be an attempted chase for world ranking points.
Rory McIlroy, the most outspoken supporter of the PGA Tour and the status quo, was quick to turn down McDowell’s offer of a player mandate to decide the fates of LIV players.
“At this point, with legal stuff and everything else, you just have to follow the rules,” McIlroy said. “If you follow the rules and regulations of the tours, then you can play by all means, but if you break the rules and regulations, actions have consequences and they live by consequences – well, they don’t live consequences by the minute, but in February they we could.
“It’s amazing that it’s gotten to the point where the future of their golf career depends on one person. [a judge]. This is madness. They put themselves in that position.”
A formal court hearing is scheduled for February in the United Kingdom to decide whether LIV players should be allowed to continue participating in DP World Tour events or whether the circuit has the right to suspend and fine them for violating tour rules.