Ian Poulter ignores LIV Golf request, Graeme McDowell makes one at bizarre BMW PGA

Ian Poulter

Ian Poulter on Thursday during the first round of the BMW PGA Championship.

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Ian Poulter ignored a LIV Golf request, while Graeme McDowell made one. 

And one of the year’s more bizarre tournaments began. Though, it may now have a twist.

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The DP World Tour is playing its showcase event, the BMW PGA Championship, this week, 18 LIV Golf players are playing it, too, and you knew the proceedings may get at least a little awkward. Comments ahead of the tournament suggested as much, after the 18, who all play for the upstart, breakaway league, entered the tournament on an established tour, thanks to an arbiter ruling. Then play at historic Wentworth Club started on Thursday. 

And on the sleeve of Poulter’s shirt were the words “Majesticks GC,” the name of his LIV Golf team. And why is that naughty to some? Ahead of the event, according to reports, DP World Tour commissioner Keith Pelley had messaged the 18 that they “will not be required to play in the Wednesday pro-am, and out of respect for our partners, our broadcasters and your fellow competitors, we would kindly ask you to consider not wearing LIV Golf-branded apparel during your participation at Wentworth.” 

On Wednesday, Pelley expanded on his request. 

“There is nothing prohibiting them from wearing LIV clothing,” Pelley said. “A couple of players, more than a couple of players, a number of players, as you may know, I sent a note asking them not to wear LIV clothing this week, and I think I stated that I’ve already believed LIV is a competitor at this point in time.

“And as a result, it wouldn’t be prudent and really good for us if they were featured on Saturday or Sunday in the hunt wearing LIV clothing, so I’ve politely asked them not to. Quite a few of them have come back and changed. There is one player individually who reacted incredibly positively and who was planning to go wear and then actually got some of his merchandise shipped over not to wear it, and I appreciated that.”

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While Pelley did not name the player, LIV golfer Patrick Reed was seen wearing LIV gear during practice rounds, then was LIV-less on Thursday. Poulter wasn’t. Notably, according to a Wall Street Journal story that examined LIV player contracts, LIV golfers are “supposed to wear LIV apparel, even when playing in non-LIV events.”

“This is a business that I actually own part of, so it has a right to be there,” Poulter told the Guardian. “I have had about six different sets of clothes in the last five weeks. I can’t possibly go to the embroiderers and have another set made up for this week. I am here for three weeks. I’m traveling, so this was the set I brought.”

Later Thursday, after play was suspended because of the death of Queen Elizabeth II, Poulter also quote-tweeted a tweet from Golf Channel’s Rex Hoggard that reported him wearing the Majesticks shirt and wrote: “Rex, Sorry Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth has sadly passed away. And you can’t help yourself and continue to throw pettiness out to the world. Show some RESPECT in these sad times. Give yourself a day off. #RIP Elizebeth. Just for clarification this is not my LIV gear.”

There were more LIV Golf thoughts. 

In February, a court will decide whether LIV golfers can play as they please on the DP World Tour, or be banned, as they are on the PGA Tour. But in an interview with reporters, including Hoggard and the Guardian, McDowell said the decision should neither wait till early next year, nor be decided by a judge. 

“Does it have to happen in a court of law?” McDowell said, as reported by the Guardian. “Let’s send 326 emails out and maybe two videos — one from the LIV players saying we’d love to support this tour eight, 10, 12 times a year, and then the other side of it is Keith Pelley’s statement this week.”

McDowell was referring to Pelley’s press conference on Wednesday, when Pelley talked at length on LIV Golf. When asked about the upcoming trial, Pelley said this: “As I said, I keep coming back to it, is that we are a members’ organization, and a members’ organization that has a membership handbook, and that is made up of rules and regulations. One of those is a conflicting tournament release. They requested a release. We denied that release, based on a plethora of reasons, and they decided to ignore that release and play and break the rules and regulations. And as a members’ organization, that’s not OK and that comes with consequences.

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“That’s really all I can say at this particular time.”

Rory McIlroy, who over the past year has become almost a PGA Tour spokesman, added more after his BMW PGA round. 

“I didn’t know he made the rules,” McIlroy said, according to the Guardian. “At this point we just have to go by the book. Again, if you abide by the rules and regulations of the tours, by all means you can play. But if you break those rules, actions have consequences. And you have to live by that, even if they are not actually doing that at the minute.”

Of course, there was also the golf.

Among the 18 LIV players, Abraham Ancer and Bernd Wiesberger were best, with rounds of four-under 68, which was four shots back of the lead. But the suspension presents a few scenarios. As of now, the DP World Tour said there would be no play on Friday, and “further updates on the resumption of play will be provided in due course.” 

But should the event possibly be canceled, the LIV-DP World Tour stir this week will be over — and no world ranking points will be awarded, which has been one of the key reasons LIV golfers are in the field. Another possibility is that the BMW is cut to three rounds — and 54 holes. 

That number, of course, is the amount of holes played on the LIV Golf series. And LIV is the Roman numeral for 54.

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