DP World Tour members, including former Scottish Open winners Lee Westwood and Martin Kaymer, have been banned from playing in the $8 million Rolex Series event after competing in the first LIV Golf tournament in England last month.
LIV Golf recruits have been paid vast sums of money to join Greg Norman’s Saudi-backed breakaway series, which has now held two $25 million events, with South African duo Charl Schwartzel and Branden Grace each picking up $4 million as the individual winners at Centurion Club near St Albans and Pumpkin Ridge in Oregon.
The fact some of the LIV Golf players feel they should still be entitled to compete in the Genesis Scottish Open, which is being co-sanctioned between the DP World Tour and PGA Tour for the first time, has been met with utter dismay by the likes of Knox.
“Bizarre times,” said the Florida-based Scot, speaking at The Renaissance Club, where the tournament starts on Thursday. “It’s awful, I think. I have quite a few friends who have, I don’t know what the right word is, defected.
“I mean, it is what it is, they’ve gone from the money and can you blame them for that, not really. Is it good for golf and something I’d do? No. But I wasn’t offered 150 million! It leaves a weird feeling for me, I just don’t like it. I’m just not a fan.
“If they’re gone, they’re gone in my opinion. Never to be seen again, you won’t be missed. That’s the way I’ve looked at it from day one.
“They have to try and claw their way back because they need to. If that tour doesn’t get world ranking points, they’re going to have play somewhere, if they’re not just doing it for money.
“I heard something Gary Player said, you can’t have your cake and eat it, too. If you’ve gone and you’re happy with the decision, own up to it, play that tour and be done with it. But the guys trying to double-dip, shame on them, actually.”
Phil Mickelson and Dustin Johnson were the two headline names in the first LIV Golf event and they were then joined by fellow major winners Bryson DeChambeau, Brooks Koepka and Patrick Reed for the second one.
“I loved Dustin Johnson’s attitude from day one; I’m gone, I’ve owned it, I’m doing it for my family and I’m happy with my decision,” added Knox.
“How can you not respect someone who has made their decision, even if you don’t agree with it? He’s made the decision and off he goes. All the guys saying we’re growing the game, it’s good for golf, come on.”
Knox, a former Irish Open champion on the DP World Tour, sits on the PGA Tour’ Player Advisory Council. “It does frustrate me, how can it not?” he said of the game currently being ripped apart.
“Golf is so healthy right now, there’s so many great young players from all over the world coming through. It seems like it’s all just okay right now, but, if there’s a couple of big younger names who go, it’s not good, is it?
“Initially, the DP World Tour they were in a very sticky position sitting right there on the fence. They had to pick a side, so good for Jay [Monahan, the PGA Tour commissioner] and Keith [the DP World Tour chief executive] to get it going a bit.”
That was reference to a new 13-year partnership between the tours having just been announced, but it remains to be seen the overall effect LIV Golf is going to have on the game.
“I agree (it throws everything into chaos),” said Knox. “One potentially good thing for the European Ryder Cup is it’s got rid of all the old boys who were hanging on for dear life, hasn't it,” he added, referring to the likes of Westwood, Kaymer, Sergio Garcia and Ian Poulter all facing the possibility of being banned from having any involvement in that event going forward.
“They’re gone now. So good, there’ll be a lot of great young players coming in and it might be the best thing that’s ever happened for us.”