Rahm & Horschel criticise LIV golfers at Wentworth

Billy Horschel (left) and Jon Rahm are two of five players from the top 15 in the world competing at Wentworth

Defending champion Billy Horschel and former world number one Jon Rahm have criticised LIV golfers taking part in the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth.

Seventeen players who have competed on the Saudi Arabian-funded breakaway tour are included in the field for the DP World Tour event which starts on the West Course this Thursday.

Horschel branded several LIV players “hypocrites” and said the group which includes European Ryder Cup heroes Lee Westwood, Ian Poulter and Sergio Garcia should not be part of the event.

The American echoed Rahm’s views attacking other LIV players who he suggested were being opportunistic in turning up and denying spots to more deserving European-based golfers.

“Even though Westwood and Poulter have been stalwarts for the European Tour, I don’t think those guys really should be here,” Horschel said.

But the defending champion reserved his strongest vitriol for players such as Mexico’s Abraham Ancer and Talor Gooch. “You’ve never played this tournament, you’ve never supported the DP World Tour,” Horschel said.

“Why are you here? You are here for one reason only and that’s to try to get world ranking points because you don’t have it.” LIV Golf have applied for world ranking status but their events do not yet earn points.

“It’s hypocritical because some of these guys said they wanted to play less golf,” Horschel added.

“It’s pretty hypocritical to come over here and play outside LIV when your big thing was to spend more time with family and want to play less golf.”

Rahm is bemused that some LIV players have been allowed to play at Wentworth this week.

“What I don’t understand is some players that have never shown any interest in the European Tour, that have never shown any interest in playing this event, are being given an opportunity, just because they can get world ranking points, and hopefully make majors next year,” said the Spaniard.

Rahm cited the plight of close friend and Spanish pro Alfredo Garcia-Heredia missing out on the Wentworth tournament because LIV players who are not DP World Tour members used their top-60 status in the global rankings to enter the tournament.

“It doesn’t hurt me but it does bug me that somebody who has played over – I looked it up – 20 DP World events this year, cannot be given the opportunity to play a flagship event,” Rahm said.

“Because some people that earned it, to an extent, are being given an opportunity when they couldn’t care any less about the event.

“They don’t know. They don’t care. They don’t know the history of this event.

“They are only here because they are trying to get world ranking points and trying to finish in the top 50, and that’s clear as day.”

But Rahm is not shutting the Ryder Cup door on LIV players, some of whom are involved in legal action trying to prevent them from being suspended from the European-based DP World Tour.

“There’s only one problem in life that doesn’t have a solution, and that’s death. Everything else has a solution,” said the 27-year-old who has played the past two Ryder Cups.

“If the European Tour really want them to play and as a team we want them to play, I think a solution can be reached.”

Garcia, Europe’s leading points scorer in the Ryder Cup, reiterated his desire to remain part of the continent’s set up for next year’s biennial match against the United States.

He also responded to comments from team-mate Rory McIlroy who recently said he finds it hard to stomach competing with LIV players at Wentworth this week.

“Everybody can have their opinions, as long as they don’t make it personal, I think it’s fine,” Garcia said.

“You have to be respectful and I’ve been a member of the European Tour for more years than he has so I think that also has to be respected.

“In the past I played European Tour and PGA Tour and it was fine. So now I don’t play the PGA Tour, I’m not a member there. I’m a member of a different tour so I don’t know why it’s so different.

“But I’m trying to support the European Tour and keep my membership and hopefully have my chances to make the Ryder Cup team and we’ll see how that pans out as we go along.”

European captain Luke Donald refused to be drawn on whether he would like to pick Garcia for next year’s match in Rome.

“It’s hard for me to comment on that because I don’t know if he will be eligible or not but obviously Sergio’s record speaks for itself,” the skipper told BBC Sport.

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