Billy Horschel and Ian Poulter in ugly altercation amid golf furore

These photos show Billy Horschel and Ian Poulter in a heated exchange on the practice greens ahead of the BMW Championship in Surrey.
Billy Horschel and Ian Poulter were involved in a heated exchange on the practice greens ahead of the BMW Championship in Surrey, England. Pic: Twitter

You don't need to be an expert in body language to figure out that things got heated between Billy Horschel and Ian Poulter ahead of the BMW Championship in England.

Poulter - one of the more high-profile LIV Golf defectors - is among those from the Saudi-backed series competing at the DP World Tour's flagship event in Surrey.

PGA Tour players, including Horschel, have been open in their criticism at the decision to allow the LIV players to compete, setting up a potentially volatile showdown on the course.

OOFT: Cam Smith cops brutal treatment after move to LIV Golf

OUCH: Cameron Smith's $5.9m blunder in brutal moment on LIV Golf debut

CURIOUS: Greg Norman's telling act after Cam Smith's LIV move

The tournament hasn't even begun yet and already that animosity between the rivals factions is evident, with Horschel and Poulter involved in a frosty exchange on the practice greens.

It's not entirely clear what the conversation was about, but both players can be seen getting in each other's faces and making rather aggressive hand gestures.

Footage of the incident has gone viral, with comments from Horschel about Poulter's presence in Surrey no doubt offering an explanation for the altercation.

“Even though Lee Westwood and Ian Poulter have been stalwarts for the European Tour (now known as the DP World Tour), I don’t think those guys really should be here,” Horschel told reporters.

“I honestly don’t think that the American guys who haven’t supported the Tour should be here. Abraham Ancer, Talor Gooch... you’ve never played this tournament, you’ve never supported the DP World Tour. Why are you here?

“You are here for one reason only and that’s to try to get world ranking points because you don’t have it (on LIV Golf).

“It’s hypocritical because of what some of these guys have said when they said they wanted to play less golf. It’s pretty hypocritical to come over here and play outside LIV when your big thing was to spend more time with family and want to play less golf.

“I wouldn’t call Lee Westwood and Ian Poulter hypocrites because they never said they wanted to play less. The guys that have publicly stated they want to play less, those are the hypocrites.”

Rory McIlroy reveals truth about LIV Golf split

Rory McIlroy - who has emerged as one of the most outspoken critics of LIV Golf and defender of the PGA Tour - has also expressed his antipathy towards players he was once close to as part of Europe's Ryder Cup teams.

Five members of Europe's team for the 2021 Ryder Cup - in which they were well beaten by the United States at Whistling Straits - have joined the controversial Saudi Arabia-backed circuit.

Four of those five – Poulter, Lee Westwood, Sergio Garcia and Bernd Wiesberger – are part of the field for this week's BMW Championship.

McIlroy admits the messy situation has seen him grow distant with many of his counterparts who've defected to the breakaway circuit.

Pictured here, former Ryder Cup teammates Rory McIlroy and Ian Poulter.
Rory McIlroy admits his relationships with LIV defectors and former Ryder Cup teammates such as Ian Poulter have become strained. Pic: Getty

"I wouldn't say I've got much of a relationship with them at the minute," McIlroy said of his former Ryder Cup teammates.

"But, like, I haven't done anything different. They are the ones that have made that decision. I can sit here and keep my head held high and say I haven't done anything differently."

Having declared last month that it would be "hard to stomach" LIV players joining the field at Wentworth, McIlroy was more diplomatic this time around, adding: "They are here. They are playing the golf tournament.

"My opinion is they shouldn't be here, but again that's just my opinion.

"But we are all going to tee it up on the first tee tomorrow and we are all going to go play 72 holes, which is a novelty for them at this point, and then we'll go from there.

"If you're just talking about Ryder Cup, that's not the future of the Ryder Cup team. They've played in probably a combined 25, 30 Ryder Cups, whatever it is.

"The Hojgaards [brothers Rasmus and Nicolai], Bobby Mac [Robert MacIntyre], whoever else is coming up, they are the future of the Ryder Cup team. That's what we should be thinking about and talking about."

with agencies

Click here to sign up to our newsletter for all the latest and breaking stories from Australia and around the world.