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  • Alistair Tait

The European Dis-Union

Shane Lowry won the BMW PGA Championship, pipping Rory McIlroy and Jon Rahm to the title. They weren’t the real losers of the European Tour’s flagship event. The European Tour suffered a heavy loss last week.

Remember that great intangible – camaraderie – that carried Europe to victory in so many Ryder Cups? It’s gone. That much was obvious from the toxic atmosphere floating over Wentworth's West Course amid the leafy suburbs of affluent Virginia Water.

European Tour stalwarts were made to feel about as welcome as range balls in a box of brand-new Titleists because they’ve signed up to LIV Golf.

Tour pros chasing dollars? Whatever next?

Rory McIlroy, who’s chased quite a few appearances dollars in his time, trolled former Ryder teammates and playing partners. Victorious 2014 captain Paul McGinley said he no longer had the same relationships with players who’d helped deliver Samuel Ryder’s coveted chalice to him.

Defending champion Billy Horschel, who’s been a European Tour member for less than two seasons, implied that veteran ET members with hundreds of starts under their belts had no right to play in Europe’s flagship event. Said player was making his second appearance in a tournament some of the players he was castigating have supported steadfastly for decades.

Martin Kaymer wasn’t at Wentworth. The two-time major winner didn’t feel welcome on a tour he’s supported steadfastly since he turned professional in 2005.

Hmmm, wonder how the German car company felt about one of Germany’s biggest stars not playing in a tournament it stumped up $8 million to host. That isn’t going to help European Tour chief executive Keith Pelley extend BMW’s sponsorship.

Even in victory, Lowry couldn’t help but troll fellow tour members.

“I wanted to go out and win this tournament for myself, first and foremost, but I think for this tour,” he said. “Everyone that’s stayed loyal to this tour and everyone that’s done everything for this tour. I feel like this is one for the good guys.”

The good guys against the bad guys? Honestly!

Let’s talk about loyalty.

Lee Westwood has made 587 European Tour appearances. The three-time European number one has 25 victories and participated in every Ryder Cup since his 1997 debut, either as a player or vice captain.

The former world number one’s allegiance to the European Tour is beyond question. Westwood played 15 times on the covid-affected European Tour when he won the 2019 Race to Dubai. He made 26 appearances when he won the 2009 money list, and 23 times in 2000 when he was first named European number one. He’s averaged 20 tournaments a season in his 29 seasons as a European Tour member.

Yet Westwood probably thought there was an invisible T for traitor painted on his back as he played Wentworth for the umpteenth time because he’s joined another tour.

Ditto for Ian Poulter. He’s made 392 career European Tour appearances. Aside from an injury hit 2016 season, the 12-time winner has averaged 14 European tournaments per season since he joined the PGA Tour in 2004. Oh, and he’s arguably done more to help Europe win the Ryder Cup in recent years than any other player.

Fellow Ryder Cup team mate Kaymer has 317 European Tour appearances under his belt. That’s 32 tournaments more than current Ryder Cup captain Luke Donald, who turned professional four years before Kaymer.

Deposed Ryder Cup captain Henrik Stenson stayed away from Wentworth, no doubt because, like Kaymer, he didn’t feel welcome on a tour on which he’s made 389 appearances. Stenson is a two-time European number one, 2013 and 2016. He won the Race to Dubai in those years when he was also a PGA Tour member. He played 17 counting events on the Europe circuit in 2013 and 14 in 2016.

Colin Morikawa, who skipped the BMW PGA, played just 10 tournaments last year when he won the Race to Dubai. That’s not to castigate the 2021 Open champion. He followed the rules. It’s not his fault the European Tour has a ridiculously low quota of tournaments – four – for membership. However, it obviously means he and players like defending champion Billy Horschel can cherry pick the strongest European Tour events.

If that last sentence sounds familiar, it’s because that charge has been levied at those LIV members who want to maintain PGA Tour and European membership.

Yes, the hypocrisy is staggering.

Despite long standing allegiance to the European Tour, to the Ryder Cup cause, Westwood and co have suddenly become pariahs because they’ve joined the LIV Tour. What's baffling is there has never been any outcry over European Tour members joining the PGA tour over the years. Practically every top European has taken up PGA Tour membership over the last 30 years without a peep of protest. Nobody called Sir Nick Faldo a traitor when he joined the PGA Tour back in the day. Or Bernhard Langer. They weren’t made to feel unwelcome on their home tour, threatened with bans, told they may not play in the Ryder Cup.

Why the double standard. Ah, yes, the “strategic alliance” between the PGA Tour and the European Tour, with the former calling the shots.

Players like Westwood, Poulter, Kaymer, Stenson and others deserve a lot more respect after the incredible service they’ve given the European Tour.

Remember four years ago in France when Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn extolled the virtues of European union? That great intangible that helped Europe win so many Ryder Cups against stronger America opposition seems to have faded away. And all because the mighty PGA Tour is in danger of losing its dominance over professional golf to a rival circuit.


#JustSaying: “The togetherness of the team, the great camaraderie we have, that's built up on the European Tour. Obviously we all have our separate lives going on, but once we get together for the Ryder Cup, we all come together as one.” Rory McIlroy, 2018 Ryder Cup

Photograph by Getty Images courtesy of the European Tour

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adrian leach
adrian leach
Sep 14, 2022

Wisely Left Garcia out of your worship for Liv players


Sep 14, 2022

While I understand your sentiment Alistair I can’t agree with you and find myself nodding to those that took time to comment. Not once did you mention the source of LIV money. Not once did you mention the source has also had published writers - not too dissimilar to yourself - executed for dissenting opinions. Not once have you mentioned the commissioner of LIV has bad blood with the regular Tours. The truth of it is that the LIV model is not a legitimate business - it will never return a profit because it doesn’t need to. The bought players, some who have indeed had longevity on the regular Tours, have participated in various lawsuits that will no doubt impac…


Sep 13, 2022

Let us not forget how instrumental McIlroy was in having the required number of tournaments to retain tour membership reduced.


Sep 13, 2022

Honestly, who cares about Lee Westwood, Ian Poulter and Martin Kaymer. They are has beens. Sure they did wonders for the ET and the Ryder Cup but they bailed on both for the money. They should admit it and ride off into the sunset (on a camel 🐪). Leave the real competitors to compete for what matters. And I would not follow Greg's lead if I were them. That guy clearly has an axe to grind and he's using someone else's dirty bank account to do it. That's sad.


Sep 13, 2022

Thanks to everyone for the comments. Normally I would reply individually to each one, but I've been inundated with responses. Not just here, but via email, twitter, Facebook etc. So won't be doing so on this occasion. No offence. Appreciate your points of view. Hope you respect mine too.

I wrote in my last blog that LIV "has certainly polarised our sport to the point of hostility from some corners." And my how true that is given the responses I've received about this blog, many of them hostile in the extreme. Sad that a small minority feel it's okay to hurl abuse.

All the best


richard mathews
richard mathews
Sep 13, 2022
Replying to

I can appreciate your point of view which everyone is entitled to. You seem to write with passion but you must understand that almost everyone of you blogs is extremely pro LIV. So if someone is responding they might be actually be actually writing to you about what they feel is your constant bias toward pro LIV and anti pga dp. I hope you do not take it personal. There is really very little negativity in your writing towards what the backers of LIV golf have done to the sport because you are pro liv. By backers I am not talking about the Saudis but Norman and Trump who have axes to grind. Its not for their love …

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