European Tour

DP World Tour bans and fines LIV Golf rebels R1.9 million

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European Tour CEO Keith Pelley
European Tour CEO Keith Pelley
PA/Supplied

The DP World Tour on Friday banned members who played in the inaugural Saudi-funded LIV Golf Invitational Series event from three tournaments and fined them £100 000 (around R1.9 million) each.

Players including Ian Poulter, Lee Westwood and Sergio Garcia all took part in the event outside London earlier this month despite not having received releases to do so from the Tour, formerly known as the European Tour.

The PGA Tour slapped a ban on its members minutes after the start of the first tournament but the DP World Tour delayed making a decision.

However, citing a breach of regulations, it has now imposed sanctions, which in addition to the six-figure fines include bans from next month's Scottish Open, the Barbasol Championship and Barracuda Championship, all of which are co-sanctioned with the PGA Tour.

The DP World Tour also said any subsequent involvement in the LIV Golf series, whose next event starts in Portland, Oregon, next week, may result in additional punishments.

"It is important to note that participation in a further conflicting tournament or tournaments without the required release may incur further sanctions," said a statement.

Rule-breakers

Keith Pelley, chief executive of the DP World Tour, said: "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.

"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 LIV series, which is bankrolled by Saudi Arabia's Public Investment Fund, has plunged the golf world into turmoil since its emergence.

It has drawn stinging criticism from human rights groups, which say the circuit is an attempt to boost the kingdom's image through sport.

LIV Golf has steadily been luring star names to sign with the upstart circuit that offers $25 million in prize money for each of its 54-hole tournaments.

South Africa's Charl Schwartzel won the first event at the Centurion Club in St Albans, taking home $4.75 million in prize money.

Four-time major champion Brooks Koepka this week became the latest big-name player to defect to the circuit, joining Dustin Johnson and six-time major winner Phil Mickelson.

In response to the growing threat from LIV Golf, PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan this week announced a sweeping overhaul of the US-based tour.

Reforms include a return to a calendar year season starting in 2024, eight tournaments with greatly enhanced purses and three no-cut limited-field international events.

Open Championship organisers the R&A announced on Wednesday that players who had signed up to the LIV series could play at St Andrews in July, in line with the policy at last week's US Open.

Nine South African golfers took part in the first LIV Golf event, namely Schwartzel, Louis Oosthuizen, Branden Grace, Justin Harding, Shaun Norris, JC Ritchie, Hennie du Plessis, Oliver Bekker and Ian Snyman.



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