LIV rebel Martin Kaymer bucks the trend by playing well at the BMW International Open as DP World Tour chiefs prepare to reveal if they will take disciplinary action against players who join the Saudi-backed breakaway
A truly shocking LIV development took place at the BMW International Open in Munich on Thursday: one of the players signed up for the Saudi-backed rebel tour actually played well.
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To the sound of one-handed clapping, no doubt, in the locker room at this DP World Tour event where the LIV men are about as welcome as Saudi henchmen, Martin Kaymer shot a 66 to be tied fourth following the first round.
No doubt the Saudis will give him another $10million for his efforts when he turns up in LIV world in Portland, Oregon, next week. As for whatever future the German, now down to 224th in the world, has left in the mainstream game, all should be clear on Friday when the tour finally issues its stance on what disciplinary action to take against the LIV rebels.
At the very least, they will be banned from playing in the showpiece Genesis Scottish Open next month, as it is a tournament sanctioned with the PGA Tour. The big question is whether the suspension will follow the lines of the American model and be an indefinite ban, meaning players like Lee Westwood, Sergio Garcia and Ian Poulter would need to seek redress through the legal system to have any future involvement in the Ryder Cup.
As for the other LIV mercenaries in Munich, picking up one last appearance money cheque - they never stop, do they? - before heading to Oregon, it is indicative of how they are now regarded by those who have stayed loyal that they were all drawn with each other for the first two rounds.
In America, the lines have been well and truly drawn, with Max Homa the first player to take up PGA Tour chief executive Jay Monahan's battle-cry to fight for the game in its current form.
'I'm sorry we've left Rory McIlroy to do all the speaking, it's not right,' said the American, who has come into his own over the last couple of years.
Speaking to the No Laying Up podcast, he added: 'It's ironic that if it all went pear-shaped we'd make lots more cash with LIV because they are offering unthinkable amounts. But while you can buy a tour you can't buy my dreams and my ambitions and I think I speak for a lot of the younger guys. It's hard because I don't have Rory's platform but I really want my voice to be heard and tell him that I'm with him.'
As for McIlroy, he is playing for a fourth week in a row at the Travelers Championship in Connecticut, in addition to attending PGA Tour board and player meetings and being the No 1 spokesman for his sport every week.
Tired? He has to be but it never showed as the Northern Irishman continued his remarkable run of form with a marvellous 62 to be the early first-round leader, one ahead of American Xander Schauffele and Scotland's Martin Laird.
Ben Coley's golf betting tips: BMW International Open preview and best bets
The week after a major is usually a good excuse for the world of golf to collectively breathe out, with those wishing to play given nice environments in which to do so as others take stock. That unfortunately is not the case in the men's game right now and, once again, the LIV Golf project threatens to overshadow events on the DP World Tour. Rather than exhale, we're all holding our breath.
Two weeks ago, Linn Grant showed that great golf can always win those headlines back, but it's difficult to imagine a realistic scenario in which that happens on Thursday. As players begin their bids to succeed the absent Viktor Hovland as the BMW International Open champion, the DP World Tour is due to update us on how it plans to deal with those LIV rebels, several of whom are in the field, and we could hear more on who will play the next event in the Saudi-funded series which takes place later this month.
Perhaps that will help provide an opportunity for someone whose focus is very much on this circuit, and it's certainly a note of caution when it comes to the likes of Louis Oosthuizen, Sergio Garcia, Bernd Wiesberger and Martin Kaymer, the four biggest names who are all now banned from the PGA Tour. Any of them teeing off on Thursday afternoon may do so having just received news which impacts their future, and it's very difficult to know how each they might respond.
For my money it makes sense to avoid all these players. Kaymer would've been interesting back on home soil in Germany, where he's been boom-or-bust and was very much boom when runner-up to Hovland 12 months ago. Kaymer has an ideal game for Eichenried, a parkland par 72 which is probably more about precision than power, and where it's possible to mask inadequacies around the green. There are few courses which suit him better and he's twice the price he was last year, but he's one of those who will be under real scrutiny all week.
To what extent you consider such attention to blame for the performances of the LIV group at the US Open is open to debate. The fact is they are for now a bit of a rabble, made up of players who for the most part have struggled in far less competitive fields, so I'm not sure we should rush to the idea that this whole venture weighs heavy. Then again, Phil Mickelson has plainly not enjoyed having to front up and it must be hard to balance professional golf and paid-for PR. It's a big ask for any of them to let their golf do the talking.