ESPN - The DP World Tour has asked the LIV Golf players scheduled to compete in next month's BMW PGA Championship to refrain from wearing LIV logos on their clothes, according to an email sent to the players from DP World Tour CEO Keith Pelley on Tuesday.
In the memo, Pelley informed the players that they "will not be required to play in the Wednesday Pro-Am and out of respect for our partners, our broadcasters and your fellow competitors, we would kindly ask you to consider not wearing LIV Golf-branded apparel during your participation at Wentworth."
A copy of the memo was obtained by ESPN. Two LIV Golf players who plan to compete in the BMW PGA Championship, set for Sept. 8-11 at Wentworth Club in Surrey, England, also confirmed receiving the email.
The Wall Street Journal reported Aug. 18 that LIV Golf contracts include a stipulation that its players must wear LIV Golf-branded clothing while competing on other circuits.
Nearly 20 LIV Golf players, including Abraham Ancer, Kevin Na, Talor Gooch, Patrick Reed, Ian Poulter, Lee Westwood and Sergio Garcia, are listed in the field for the BMW PGA Championship, which has an $8 million purse.
Several PGA Tour players, including defending champion Billy Horschel, Rory McIlroy, Jon Rahm, Matt Fitzpatrick and Viktor Hovland, also plan to play in the event.
After winning last week's Tour Championship at East Lake Golf Club in Atlanta, McIlroy said he wasn't looking forward to seeing the PGA Tour members who had defected to LIV Golf.
"I hate what it's doing to the game of golf," McIlroy said. "I hate it. I really do. Like, it's going to be hard for me to stomach going to Wentworth in a couple of weeks' time and seeing 18 of them there. That just doesn't sit right with me."
PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan has suspended members who competed in LIV Golf tournaments without conflicting-event releases. Pelley suspended and fined DP World Tour players who signed with LIV Golf from three events it co-sanctions with the PGA Tour, but the punishment was temporarily blocked by an arbiter in England. A hearing is scheduled for February to address the suspensions and fines.
Fitzpatrick, who won the U.S. Open in July, said it was going to be an awkward setting at Wentworth.
"It's going to be odd seeing certain people, obviously, at Wentworth," Fitzpatrick said. "That is going to be a bit weird, and obviously it's a little bit disappointing. But they won their little thing (arbitration hearing)."
For those who don't know… months ago some judge across the pond granted the LIV guys a "stay" (don't ask me what that means) to allow them to play in the Scottish Open and subsequently other DP World (European) Tour events while they get all the legal mumbo jumbo sorted. Obviously the DPWT would've loved to have drawn a hard line in the sand and kept those guys out, but apparently their legal standing is not as strong as the PGA Tour's. Or European courts see things differently. One of the two, or both. I'm no lawyer, but thems the facts.
What we're left with is a weird situation with 20 or so LIV guys getting mixed back into the punch bowl next week in England. It stands as an opportunity for a ton of those LIV guys to get key Official World Golf Ranking points as they remain in limbo during LIV Golf's OWGR application process. I talked at length about why that's so important here:
At any rate, the BMW PGA Championship is one of the most prestigious events on that Tour. It's a flagship event for them. I'd go as far as to consider it their Player's Championship. It's got tons of history and always brings a strong field, furthering the notion that a ton of OWGR points are up for grabs.
So the DPWT is understandably protective of their own branding and all their sponsors associated with it. They can't have LIV guys running amok flashing their 54 hats every which way. It'd be a disaster for them in every way possible.
What's laughable though, is that they've "kindly asked" them to not wear that stuff. These are war times, man. I highly doubt that "kindly asking" them is going to do anything. Did they consider just "kindly asking" them not to start up a competing tour that rips apart the golf world as we know it?
My guess is that the reality of the situation is that the DPWT knows they have little to no legal footing to prevent them from wearing their stuff. The request is hollow, and the LIV guys probably know that. They'll probably wear whatever they want to wear (hell, LIV Golf requires it as mentioned above) and the TV coverage will do their best to keep it off air until they can't.
It's stirring drama, no doubt about it. I'd love for the LIV guys to get fully mixed into groupings with the rest of the guys. A Rory/Reed grouping for old times' sake would be phenomenal theater oozing with tension, but I highly doubt the DPWT does anything other than throw the LIV guys together and pretend they exist. Bummer.
Weird times in the golf world, and they never stop getting weirder.