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BMW PGA Championship: LIV Golf involvement a distraction but can add to Wentworth excitement

Andrew Coltart looks ahead to the BMW PGA Championship and explains why the controversy surrounding LIV Golf members playing at Wentworth could add further excitement to the DP World Tour’s flagship event; watch Featured Groups live on Thursday from 8.30am on Sky Sports Golf

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Rory McIlroy and Jon Rahm are among the star names in action at Wentworth this week at the BMW PGA Championship, with extended coverage live on Sky Sports.

This has been the DP World Tour's home for many years now and the whole place just oozes history, with a lot of the excitement around the tournament being the prestige it still holds within the game.

It's a phenomenal event that always brings out the best and it's great to see so many of the European star names come over to play, with the likes of Rory McIlroy, Jon Rahm, Matt Fitzpatrick, Viktor Hovland, Tyrrell Hatton and Shane Lowry understanding the importance of what their support means to the DP World Tour in these interesting times.

Those players are coming to try and put their name on that iconic piece of silverware and become the BMW PGA champion, but there's also that part of them being able to support their Tour as much as they can and being here to give back whatever they can.

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Jon Rahm has questioned why some LIV golfers have been granted spots at the BMW PGA when players who he feels have 'dedicated' themselves to the DP World Tour have missed out.

It's a tremendous opportunity for the home fans to see some of the world's top golfers playing one of the best venues, although it's a shame that people are not talking only about the event but are instead having to talk about what's going on in the wider game.

People have various opinions based on these subjects and that's perfectly fine, they're completely entitled to their own opinion. The difficult thing though is that the conversation about LIV Golf flares up and ends up sometimes taking something away from what is our premier event.

Why is there an issue?

LIV Golf members being in the field is a distraction at any Tour event, because it's something many of us couldn't see happening in our game and is something we're having to deal with.

Some are playing because the terms of the Ryder Cup qualification have not yet been decided and they're coming over, certainly the ex-European based ones, with that in the back of their mind. Should the qualification process remain open to them, then they'll have the opportunity to earn points and get off to a decent start.

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There's also the opportunity for those players to earn much needed world ranking points, which will help maintain their presence in the majors.

It's curious that there are people here who otherwise wouldn't give this event a second glance and others who should have played here more often than they ever did. Their reasons may be palatable, but for the full members of the DP World Tour - who would never think about moving elsewhere and are fully committed to this Tour - it's a question that must surely be on their mind.

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Billy Horschel says he thinks it is a 'slap in the face' to DP World Tour golfers that LIV golfers are playing at the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth.

There will be the DP World Tour members who would have had the opportunity to compete in one of the best events of the season and the flagship event but are now going to miss out due to what's going on in the game, which - from their point of view - is going to be hugely upsetting to them.

It's sad that it has come to this because guys have had relationships for 20 or more years, have bled blue in Ryder Cup matches and given heart and soul as team-mates against the Americans. They've done it for the continent over here but now, because of opinions and because of money, those relationships have been fractured and some of them will be broken beyond repair.

Some of them may be able to respect the differing opinions and carry on regardless, but nonetheless there's going to be a little bit more friction in some groups than there would have previously been.

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Extra excitement ahead at Wentworth?

Things are going to be tense this this week I would imagine, given everything going in the game, although it ups the ante a bit in the tournament and the extra needle could heighten the excitement.

On Sunday afternoon, instead of two European players coming down the stretch, it could be the case of a DP World Tour player coming against a LIV Golf member, which would add further interest to what is already an incredibly interesting tournament.

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Rory McIlroy said after his Tour Championship victory that he hates what LIV Golf is doing to the game

You don't expect everyone on Tour to be pally, so I think the players are used to taking the fairways with people they might not always get along with. They'll just get on with their job. They'll step into their office, get on the first tee and they close the door.

I remember similar scenarios from my playing days, where you just get on with your own game and don't always care too much about the other person walking the fairway with you. This is a good opportunity this week to try and claim a little more class within the whole situation, put personal opinions about what is going on in the game to one side, and just get on with the golf.

Watch the BMW PGA Championship throughout the week live on Sky Sports. Live coverage begins on Thursday with Featured Groups from 8.30am on Sky Sports Golf, ahead of full coverage from midday.

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