Denny McCarthy went on to make birdie after hitting a ball off the tee into a cupholder- via a spectator!
Ian Poulter plans to appeal against his suspension from the PGA Tour after golf’s bitter power struggle took a dramatic turn.
Within minutes of the first shots in the opening LIV Golf Invitational Series event being struck, the PGA Tour responded by banning the 17 players in the field who were playing despite having been denied permission.
Among them were six-time major winner and lifetime member Phil Mickelson, former world No.1 Dustin Johnson and European stars Lee Westwood, Sergio Garcia and Graeme McDowell, with all but Mickelson having resigned from the Tour already.
Poulter had not resigned and repeatedly insisted he had done nothing wrong, despite being denied the required release to play in the controversial Saudi-backed tournament.
“I’ve played a lot of tournaments all around the world, this event is no different. It’s a shame if they view this as something different,” Poulter said after an opening round of 75 in the 54-hole event at Centurion Club.
“I will appeal for sure. It makes no sense. Having two Tour cards and the ability to play golf all over the world, what’s wrong with that?
“I believe I’ve been given permission in the past to play in events around the world.”
Asked why he had been refused permission on this occasion, Poulter added: “I don’t know why. We can all make assumptions as to why. Competition is probably the real reason. It’s a power struggle and it’s just disappointing.”
A legal battle between LIV Golf and the PGA Tour has always looked inevitable, with the players viewing themselves as independent contractors who should be able to play wherever they wish.
“I have spoken to some players, obviously we have spoken to the lawyers,” added McDowell, who said he resigned from the PGA Tour to put himself in a “less litigious situation”.
“We have the LIV legal team which are fantastic. We have our own legal team. Some players have decided that, out of an abundance of caution, that they were going to resign and try to stay away from any litigation.
“Some guys believe that they shouldn’t be in the situation where they have to resign. They don’t feel like they are doing anything wrong.
Meanwhile, Australia’s Matt Jones has condemned the PGA Tour’s ban on him and other ‘rebel’ golfers, insisting the “disappointing” decision won’t stop the momentum of Greg Norman’s breakaway series.
Jones, Australia’s leading player in the controversial Saudi-backed tournaments, reckons even if he never competes in another PGA Tour event again, he’d be happy simply embarking on his “great” new adventure.
As he played in the launch LIV Golf Invitational event at the Centurion Club, north of London, on Thursday, Jones, a two-time winner on the PGA Tour, had no idea of the dramas unfolding off the course.
Half an hour after he teed off, the PGA Tour, on which he’s earned $17.3 million, announced he was among 17 members who would be suspended because they’d competed at Centurion.
Jones was still unaware of the news when AAP broke it to him after he’d just finished his round, but the laid-back 42-year-old simply smiled and there was no way it was going to put a dampener on his day.
“It’s not a shock, it’s not a surprise,” he shrugged.
“But I don’t think it’s good for anyone – it’s not good for golf, not good for the PGA Tour and it’s not good for us as independent contractors to be told where to play and when to play.
“It’s their move, they’re taking that decision and we’ll see what happens.
“This new series is only growing, this is not getting smaller. There’s many more players coming and this is only gonna grow.
“There’s a good field here this week, a lot of great players, but if it’s the case (that I don’t play again) and it’s the way they want to go about it, I’m sure like me, everyone here is more than happy to play in this LIV Golf series for the rest of this year.”
Jones has played 364 events on the US-based PGA Tour and has been a regular on the circuit for 15 years.
Asked to ponder the idea he might have played his last event, he said: “That would be disappointing but I did come to this series and this tournament with the understanding that this could be the case.
“And I’m more than happy to stay here and play these (LIV) events. Everything’s great, the atmosphere’s great, the staff, the players – and they’re only going to get better.
“The fans were amazing today. We turned up and there was a very exciting vibe out there.
“I was very surprised, I wasn’t really sure what to expect to be honest, but there was a good little atmosphere out here today.”
Only one thing hadn’t changed for Jones – his recent poor run of form with three missed cuts in his last four events.
He shot a four-over par 74 at Centurion, but at least he won’t have to worry about missing another cut in LIV’s truncated, three-round format.
“Just another typical day on the golf course for me lately – didn’t make any putts and hit it rather poor in spurts and quite good in other spurts,” he shrugged.
“But even if I didn’t play good golf today, I still enjoyed the whole experience.
“We’ve had a great time so far. It’s refreshing, something fun, something new for us, but best thing we still go out and get to play golf.”