LIV rebels mean 2023 is no fresh start for DP World Tour

Ronan MacNamara
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Ian Poulter (Photo by Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images)

Shane Lowry looks up from his microphone and points across the Adare Manor gardens as Lee Westwood saunters by drawing a widespread chuckle from the assembled media – “There’s Lee Westwood, I like him!”

One would wonder whether that is still the case today as the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship gets underway this week in the first of back-to-back Rolex Series events which grant vital world ranking points and of course, Ryder Cup points with LIV players currently still eligible to qualify for Luke Donald’s European team in September.

LIV players are scattered throughout this week’s field with the likes of Ian Poulter, Henrik Stenson, Bernd Wiesberger, Sam Horsfield, Patrick Reed, Adrian Otaegui and Westwood taking up spots from those who need it most. It makes a complete mockery of the DP World Tour and their presence is laughing at Keith Pelley and co.

This scenario arose at Wentworth where the presence of Reed and Abraham Ancer at the BMW PGA Championship drew uproar at a critical point in last year’s DP World Tour season.

A new year, and nothing changes. For contrast, Wesley Bryan withdrew from Monday Qualifying for the American Express because he MIGHT get into the tour event which opened up a spot in the Monday Q for someone else.

What is amazing is how out of touch with reality it appears the LIV players are, particularly Patrick Reed, Henrik Stenson and Ian Poulter.

Before I go any further, Happy belated 47th birthday Ian xx.

Sometimes I wonder if Poulter is for real, but then I think he must be with his constant flaunting of how much money he has, how many Ferraris and G Wagons he has, and the gut-wrenching tales of woe about his poor nanny getting downgraded from business class, leaving his wife to look after the kids. Surely he could have lent a helping hand?

On the other hand, I have to admit I admire him for what he has achieved in his career. The Englishman has managed to carve out a career that has seen him become a Ryder Cup legend, while collecting twelve DP World Tour wins and three PGA Tour wins including two World Golf Championships.

However, it is Poulter’s latest reference to the upcoming Ryder Cup in September that shows he is still out of touch.

“I would love to qualify. Whether I play or not would be a different thing,” Poulter told reporters ahead of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship. “I haven’t given up on anything. If I win these two weeks, who knows?

“I certainly don’t expect to get one of the six [captain’s] picks. Not in any way, shape or form. Which is also a shame. What does that tell you? What is the story there?”

In Poulter’s seven Ryder Cup appearances in which he became a legend of the competition, he received five wildcard or captain’s picks with varying degrees of approval and scrutiny. A player who has become the face of the Ryder Cup over the last twenty years, ‘Mr Ryder Cup,’ the man who has made a career of saying he loves the Ryder Cup with his gritted teeth, roars, chest pumping and bug eyed celebrations, has now decided to s**t on the competition which made him relevant.

Has he no shame? To say he might not bother playing if he qualifies (which he likely won’t) is just another childish lash at the DP World Tour and I don’t see why he was afforded airtime this week.

His compatriot Mr Stenson is making his first regular DP World Tour appearance since finishing in a respectable 100th place at the Genesis Scottish Open – which also happened to have big bucks and big world ranking points on offer due to its co-sanction with the PGA Tour.

The Swede also missed the cut at the 150th Open Championship, a week before he defected to LIV Golf which culminated in him being stripped of the Ryder Cup captaincy and subsequently replaced by Luke Donald.

The 2016 Open champion played in LIV Bedminster the following week and after winning he couldn’t resist a callous dig at the Ryder Cup – “I guess we can agree I played like a captain.

Stenson was so often portrayed as one of the good guys of golf having battled through adversity more than once in his career both on and off the golf course to claw his way back to the top, and earning the Ryder Cup captaincy in March of last year seemed a fitting reward for such an admirable character.

Whoops…

Watching Tom McKibbin linger on the reserve list until he finally edged his way into the field this week was tough to stomach.

Here we had a young player looking to make his way in the game, who has had a very promising start to his burgeoning DP World Tour career, potentially being shunned out by the selfishness and arrogance of Stenson, Poulter, Westwood and co.

Fortunately he is in the field in Abu Dhabi this week but at sixth reserve for the Dubai Desert Classic next week, it seems unlikely he will be so lucky.

The next fortnight could be pivotal for the McKibbin’s of this world on the DP World Tour given the next time they play for a prize fund of over two million dollars is in May.

LIV golfers are not only lining their own pockets and earning world ranking points this month but they are taking precious opportunities from those who need them most.

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