BOLTON, Mass. — Sergio Garcia is enjoying his new life as a LIV golfer. But on the DP World Tour, where he became one of Europe’s biggest stars of the past two decades, the Spaniard is predicting some tension when he and more than a dozen other LIV recruits return next week for its flagship event, the BMW PGA Championship.
On Saturday at the LIV Golf Invitational Boston, 2017 Masters champion joined fellow European Martin Kaymer in anticipating a degree of friction at the $8 million BMW PGA at Wentworth. That’s because 18 LIV Golfers are competing in the DP World Tour event in England due to a U.K. legal decision.
“I’m sure some guys will be tense about it [because] we’re going to go out there and play; what I’m going to do is support the European tour and that’s all I can do. Whoever doesn’t like it, too bad for them,” Garcia told Golf Digest at The International outside Boston, after shooting a six-under-par 64 to sit at six under overall and six shots behind 36-hole leader Talor Gooch.
Garcia’s comments come days after two-time major winner Kaymer said he would skip the event due to ongoing friction. But Garcia, a 16-time winner on the former European Tour, will join fellow LIV golfers teeing it up at Wentworth, including Lee Westwood, Ian Poulter and Graeme McDowell, along with Gooch, Patrick Reed, Abraham Ancer and Kevin Na—all in the field courtesy of their place inside the top 60 in the World Ranking.
While LIV Golfers are banned by the PGA Tour, DP World Tour bylaws prevent such long-term punishments. DP World Tour officials did initially fine and suspend members who left for LIV for three summer events, but a U.K. arbiter temporarily lifted the suspensions pending a full legal review that is set for February 2023.
Those tensions include DP World Tour chief Keith Pelley circulating a memo to members stating LIV golfers wouldn’t participate in the pro-am or the TV broadcast featured group while he also requested LIV golfers “consider not wearing LIV Golf-branded apparel” at Wentworth.
Rory McIlroy, a member of the PGA Tour and DP World Tour, said after winning the PGA Tour’s FedEx Cup title last week that it would be “hard for me to stomach going to Wentworth in a couple of weeks’ time and seeing them there.”
Despite the current divide in professional golf, the 42-year-old Garcia said he was glad he joined LIV, which has come under controversy for being financed by Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund.
An 11-time PGA Tour winner, Garcia finished his career on the U.S. circuit under acrimonious circumstances. At the Wells Fargo event outside Washington, D.C., in May, he remarked he “couldn’t wait to leave this tour” after being involved in rules issue he felt had been wrongly decided. Garcia has played all four events of LIV’s inaugural series with respectable results, including a T-6 at its Bedminster, N.J., leg. Outside of LIV, Garcia also teed up at the DP World Tour’s BMW International Open in Germany, the U.S. Open and the Open Championship.
LIV Golf has set itself apart from golf’s major tours by offering lucrative guaranteed money contracts for its 48 players, as well as 54-hole events featuring a $20 million individual component and a $5 million team format. LIV also blasts music around its host courses while it announced Friday all players can compete in shorts during tournament rounds.
Garcia said he was feeling at ease playing LIV Golf.
“It’s been great; every time I look at my decision of joining LIV it confirms that I’m very happy with everything we’re doing, not only personally but also a twist on the game,” Garcia said. “I think it’s working when you look at the demographic [of fans] around the course; it’s a lot younger. Obviously, this is a new step. It’s something exciting and new. It feels like the future of golf and it’s nice to be a part of it.”
“I try not to dance too much,” he joked. “I love music. I always listen to music when I’m at home practicing. It makes it a little bit more relaxed, a little bit more easy-going, I guess.”