It is not the 21st celebration of the championship that organisers will be seeking with the biggest controversy in men’s pro golf no doubt set to capture all the wrong headlines leading into the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship in Scotland.
Sixteen LIV players have entered the $5m event, being again hosted on the Old Course at St. Andrews, Carnoustie and Kingsbarns Links from 29th September to 2nd October.
This year will mark the 21st hosting of the event since the first stage in 2001 of the new tour event, given there was no 2020 event due to COVID, when Scotland’s Paul Lawrie defeated Ernie Els in a rescheduled final round on a Monday by holing a monster birdie putt from the Valley of Sin at the last on the Old Course, while also becoming the first male golfer to win using the newly released Odyssey 2-Ball putter.
However, that will be all forgotten later this month when ‘loyalists’ such as the Irish duo of Shane Lowry and Rory McIlroy, along with reigning US Open winner Matt Fitzpatrick, double Dunhill winner Tyrrell Hatton and American Billy Horschel will again, and due to a July court ruling, be sharing the fairways and greens with ‘rebels’ at a DP World Tour event.
As well, past Ryder Cup captains in Thomas Bjorn and Padraig Harrington will tee-up in the same tournament as LIV players Abraham Ancer, Talor Gooch and the South African duo of majors-winning Charl Schwartzel and Louis Oosthuizen along with another past Dunhill Links winner in Branden Grace.
Schwartzel created LIV Golf history in capturing the first event of the breakaway series last June on the outskirts of London while Grace made it a South African victory double in winning the second LIV event.
Oosthuizen is a former Open Champion, winning golf’s oldest major in 2010 at the Home of Golf.
We well know how Lowry and McIlroy, who finished a respective first and joint second in the recent BMW PGA, feel about competing in an event featuring LIV golfers but there’ll be no escaping yet more questions on the conflict.
Though Oosthuizen recently won the praise of DP Tour World CEO Keith Pelley during Pelley’s pre-BMW PGA Championship press conference for his ‘professional and classy manner’ in matters dealing with LIV Golf and the main two Tour’s.
“He’s (Oosthuizen) not said one word against us publicly since,” Pelley said. “He’s a gentleman and I wish him nothing but the best.
“Others, however, have not conducted themselves in that way and that is my biggest personal disappointment over the past few months.”
Other LIV players who have entered this year’s Dunhill Links include Adrian Otaegui, who is contesting this week’s Italian Open rather than compete in the LIV event in Chicago, Shaun Norris, Richard Bland, Laurie Canter, Peter Uihlein and Aussie Jediah Morgan, who won the Australian Tour’s 2021/22 money list title.
And as we saw at Wentworth, LIV players have been advised they will not feature in any of the top TV groups while they have again been informed not to wear any LIV logo attired clothing.