Fleetwood leads as storm clouds gather at BMW PGA Championship

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LONDON, Sept 8 (Reuters) – Stormy weather provided a fitting backdrop for the opening round of the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth on Thursday, where players from both sides of golf’s bitter power struggle were in action on soggy fairways.

The flagship tournament of the DP World Tour (formerly the European Tour) was overshadowed by the presence of 17 golfers who signed up for the LIV Tour, a series that supports the status quo of golf.

Four-time Northern Ireland Major champion Rory McIlroy, one of the favorites for the title, was quick to criticize some of his former Ryder Cup colleagues who jumped ship for the riches of the LIV Tour. Read more

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He is joined in a strong field by the likes of US Open champion Matt Fitzpatrick, Wentworth 2021 winner Billy Horschel and former Spanish US Open winner John Rahm, all of whom have nothing to do with each other. with the LIV Tour.

England’s Tommy Fleetwood, another player not on the LIV breakaway tour, topped the leaderboard midway through Thursday’s first round with a superb under-64 eight, finishing with four successive birdies.

Fellow Englander Jordan Matthew finished second after a 65 with 2019 Open champion Shane Lowry, who described the presence of LIV golfers as “disruptive”, carding a 66.

Of the LIV Tour contingent, Austria’s Bernd Wiesberger was the highest ranked on four under after 17 holes.

McIlroy said it would be “difficult to stomach” playing alongside Ian Poulter, Lee Westwood and Sergio Garcia at Wentworth and reiterated his opposition on Wednesday.

Former Europe Ryder Cup captain Paul McGinley, a DP World Tour board member, has told Sky Sports that those registered for the LIV Tour should not play at Wentworth.

“They decided to leave the collective that is the European Tour, which is a bit like a union where everyone is together, and then the value of this collective is used to take advantage and obtain commercial opportunities”, a- he declared.

“If you leave this collective, that’s fine, you take a different path, but you shouldn’t be allowed to come back and also play as part of a collective that you left and who are really suffering economically.”

The LIV Tour, which launched at the first event near London in June, claims a staggering prize pool of $255 million – eclipsing what is available on the DP World Tour.

Unlike the mighty PGA Tour, which has suspended players such as Phil Mickelson and Dustin Johnson for jumping ship, the DP World Tour has yet to follow suit with a court case next year likely to decide whether they can play in both. Read more

McIlroy was at least spared any awkwardness as he was paired for his first lap with Fitzpatrick and Horschel in front of large galleries hidden under umbrellas from the heavy downpours.

There was no hiding the tension in the air as the LIV Tour signees began their rounds, but McIlroy let his golf do the talking as he opened with a four under 68.

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Reporting by Martyn Herman; Editing by Ken Ferris and Pritha Sarkar

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

About Margaret L. Portillo

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