Lee Westwood questions strength of competition as DP World Tour begins

  • Abu Dhabi Championship to feature only one player from top 20
  • ‘I’m not sure where the Tour is now,’ says Westwood

Lee Westwood has expressed concern over the strength of the DP World Tour, as the Englishman begins his 30th season in the competition.

Shane Lowry is the only player from the world’s top 20 to feature in this week’s Abu Dhabi Championship, the typical curtain raiser for what was once the European Tour. Rory McIlroy will add stardust to next week’s Dubai Desert Classic but, again, there will be notable absentees.

The future of Westwood, who joined LIV Golf last year, on this Tour will be determined by a sporting arbitration case early next month. Westwood wants to remain but has questioned its pull for others.

“I’m not sure where the Tour is now,” Westwood said. “If you’d have told me that I’d be playing in a $9m tournament on Tour I’d struggle to believe you but then if you told me there’d only be one member of the world’s top 20 in the field, I’d think you were mad.

“No disrespect to whoever he is but the 15th highest-ranked player on the Challenge Tour has got in this week. And this is a short field, as is next week which is another $9m event. I’ve never known it go down so far, even when it was nowhere near this money.

“Two $9m events, back to back, an hour’s drive apart, in near perfect conditions. If you’re not going to get strong fields, like half a dozen of the world’s top 20, to these then you’re never going to get them are you?”

Westwood believes the explanation for this scenario can be traced to the US. Jon Rahm and Justin Rose, for example, will play this weekend in the American Express tournament in California. “The PGA Tour are forcing their top players’ hands to play and it stops them playing here,” Westwood said.

Westwood, Ian Poulter and other LIV rebels have been denied appearances in pro-ams at DP World Tour events. Westwood thinks that situation unnecessary. “Why not let us play in the pro-am at Wentworth and here this week?” he asked. “Why would you not have, for instance, me and Poults playing at Wentworth.

“It doesn’t do the sponsors much good. Why, with the hearing coming along, would you change the routine. Why not treat us the same until there’s a decision? We aren’t being treated the same.”


Ewan Murray in Abu Dhabi

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