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DP World Tour hands out fines, suspensions to LIV golfers

June 24, 2022

Stuart Franklin

There was no mention of the DP World Tour’s on-going relationship with the PGA Tour, but chief executive Keith Pelley has come down hard on those members of the Old World circuit who participated at the inaugural LIV Golf Invitational event at the Centurion Club just north of London earlier this month.

In a statement released to media on Friday, Pelley revealed that the likes of Sergio Garcia, Lee Westwood, Richard Bland, Martin Kaymer, Ian Poulter, Bernd Wiesberger, Sam Horsfield, Adrian Otaegui, Oliver Fisher, Graeme McDowell, Wade Ormsby and Pablo Larrazabal will all be fined £100,000 ($125,000) and suspended from participating in three DP World Tour events next month: the Genesis Scottish Open, the Barbasol Championship and the Barracuda Championship (all co-sanctioned with the PGA Tour). Participation in further conflicting tournaments without the required releases “may incur further sanctions.”

Those players who competed in the first LIV event and are currently in Munich for the BMW International Open were informed of their fate on Thursday in what a source told Golf Digest was a “sometimes heated” meeting. Wiesberger, the 2019 Scottish Open champion, is known to have been especially upset, according to the source.

Reached by text, Westwood (who is not in Germany) responded to Golf Digest that he had been “advised not to comment” about the punishment.

“Every action anyone takes in life comes with a consequence and it is no different in professional sport, especially if a person chooses to break the rules,” Pelley wrote in the statement. “That is what has occurred here with several of our members. Many members I have spoken to in recent weeks expressed the viewpoint that those who have chosen this route have not only disrespected them and our Tour, but also the meritocratic ecosystem of professional golf that has been the bedrock of our game for the past half a century and which will also be the foundation upon which we build the next 50 years. Their actions are not fair to the majority of our membership and undermine the Tour, which is why we are taking the action we have announced today.”

The DP World Tour’s reaction to the threat that the LIV series poses in terms of player discipline was more specific (and limited) than that taken earlier by the PGA Tour because its bylaws and constitution do not allow players to be banned indefinitely. Still, as Friday’s statement shows, there are other ways of meting out punishment. Another action known to be under consideration is banning LIV participants from competing in DP World Tour events offering a more than €2 million prize fund.

Pelley’s statement also revealed the destination of the cash raised from the fines. It will be shared equally in two distinct ways: (1) it will be added to prize funds of upcoming tournaments on the DP World Tour, to the benefit of Members of the DP World Tour who have complied with the Release rules and (2) it will be distributed through the tour’s Golf for Good program to deserving charitable causes in the communities that the DP World Tour plays.

Going forward, at least one DP World Tour player expects any fines levied to escalate in size and include further suspensions from events.

“If every time you play they are going to sanction you for, say, two events, you are not going to play much until the end of the year,” he said. “I can also see a change in the regulations so that the minimum number of starts retired to maintain tour membership is raised in 2023, to the point where it becomes all but impossible to play our tour and the LIV Series. And if the Saudis pay the fines for the players, they might find themselves funding a few of our events next year.”

As for the DP World Tour’s on-going relationship with the PGA Tour, announcements on further integration in their strategic alliance could be coming shortly, sources tell Golf Digest. A possibility being considered, according to another player familiar with the discussion who asked for anonymity, is that the top 10 or 15 players on the DP World Tour Race to Dubai at year-end will earn a PGA Tour card.