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Having finished off the 2021-22 PGA Tour season last month with a FedEx Cup win and its $18 million winner’s check, Rory McIlroy is spending this week at the DP World Tour’s Italian Open. In two weeks he plans on playing another event at the iconic Old Course at St. Andrews, but this time he’ll do so against some unlikely, and, perhaps, unwanted competition: LIV Golf players.
This summer, the DP World Tour (formerly the European Tour) tried to follow the PGA Tour’s path and suspend LIV Golf pros from its tournaments. A lawsuit followed, so while the English court system spells the whole issue out, LIV players are still allowed to play DP World Tour events.
With the LIV Golf Chicago event happening this week too, players like McIlroy didn’t have to worry about running into their LIV counterparts at the Italian Open. Ironically, the Italian Open is being played at Marco Simone, who will host next year’s Ryder Cup. We know Rory will be there for that one, though we still don’t know if LIV players will be permitted to compete.
McIlroy plans to play the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship in two weeks’ time, the popular DP World Tour event contested at three Scottish links courses, including the Old Course at St. Andrews. But there is no LIV event happening that week, so LIV players are free to sign up. And sign up they have.
As of now, 10 LIV players are in the field, including Talor Gooch, Abraham Ancer, Louis Oosthuizen, Charl Schwartzel, Shaun Norris, Branden Grace, Richard Bland, Laurie Canter, Peter Uihlein and Jed Morgan.
A whole lot of awkwardness and some choice words will likely be had, as was the case in the last iteration of LIV vs. PGA Tour. Two weeks ago at the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth, over a dozen LIV players teed it up, and many pros on the PGA Tour side were not happy about it, including Rory.
“I hate what [LIV] is doing to the game of golf,” he said after his Tour Championship win. “I hate it. I really do. Like, it’s going to be hard for me to stomach going to Wentworth in a couple of weeks’ time and seeing 18 of them there. That just doesn’t sit right with me.”
He wasn’t alone. PGA Tour stalwart Billy Horschel, who will also play the Dunhill Links, was caught on Wentworth’s practice putting green having an animated argument with LIV pro Ian Poulter.
Further adding to what will likely be a charged atmosphere for McIlroy at the Dunhill Links is the host course, the Old Course at St. Andrews. It was the site of McIlroy’s latest major disappointment, where he surrendered the 54-hole lead to lose the 2022 Open in July, with plenty of LIV pros in the field. The player who beats him? LIV Golf’s newest signed, World No. 3 Cam Smith.
The Alfred Dunhill Links Championship begins September 29.