Perhaps locker-room cameras should have been installed at the Scottish Open this week. In the latest chapter in golf’s civil war, Billy Horschel used a press conference at the Renaissance Club to take direct aim at “hypocrite” golfers who have cited a light schedule as the basis for accepting hugely lucrative offers to join the Saudi Arabia-backed LIV Series.
The DP World Tour, formerly the European Tour, announced that any member who had participated on the breakaway LIV circuit would be banned from teeing up at the Scottish Open on Thursday. Ian Poulter, Adrian Otaegui and Justin Harding challenged that sanction via arbitration permitted in DP World Tour rules. Having been successful, they were added to the Scottish Open field. The Saudi Arabia-backed LIV model has staged two $25m events thus far, with a further six planned throughout 2022.
Horschel, the world No 15, is unimpressed with his fellow professionals. “I believe they made their bed,” he said. “They decided to go play on a tour and they should go play that tour.
“They shouldn’t be coming back over here to play the DP World Tour or the PGA Tour. To say that they wanted to also support this tour or the DP or PGA Tour going forward, while playing the LIV Tour, is completely asinine in my opinion. To play the PGA Tour, you’ve got to play 15 events and their [LIV] schedule is eight events, [planned to be] 14. So to say they are going to play 29 events a year and still hold membership on the PGA Tour is ridiculous.”
Horschel was far from finished, despite insisting he “does not fault” any golfer for skipping over to LIV. “Leave us alone, honestly,” he said. “They keep [saying] the PGA Tour doesn’t listen to them. The last week’s events I’ve been really frustrated by because there are a lot of guys who are hypocrites that are not telling the truth and lying about some things. I just can’t stand to sit here anymore and be diplomatic about it as I have been in the past.
“Listen, there is a little division in the locker room and some are more upset than others. I have no ill will but I’m just tired of hearing comments that aren’t truthful.”
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Thoughts that the 150th Open Championship next week may provide a more calm environment have been undermined by the R&A, who have taken the unprecedented step of advising spectators not to travel to St Andrews by train. Tournament organisers are concerned by the limited timetable implemented by ScotRail amid a dispute with Aslef.
Johnnie Cole-Hamilton, the R&A’s executive director of championships, said: “Due to circumstances out of our control, we have no choice but to urge fans to not travel by rail to the Open and to use alternative means of transport to get to and from St Andrews next week. There is a risk that fans who travel by train may find there are no services to get them home.”