Although they have remained tight-lipped on the subject, numerous media firms are reporting that the DP World Tour has won its landmark legal battle with the rebel LIV Golf tour.
Played out against the backdrop of one of the sport’s most prestigious tournaments, The Masters, which gets underway on Thursday, the DP World Tour (formerly known as the European Tour) can now reportedly block its members from teeing it up in LIV Golf events – or fine them up to £100,000 every time they do.
The likes of Ian Poulter, Lee Westwood and Sergio Garcia have continued to defy a waiver preventing them from playing LIV Golf tournaments, however the conclusion of the legal case confirms that they could be sanctioned every time they play on the rebel tour, which has been bankrolled by the Saudi Arabian aristocracy.
There were five days of arguments put forward by the respective legal teams of DP World and LIV Golf, and while the arbitration service at the heart of it all – Sporting Resolutions – is yet to publicly reveal their verdict, The Times newspaper has claimed that DP World have come out on the winning side.
It’s not know whether those players involved will appeal the judgement, nor whether they will give up their DP World Tour membership rights.
In another outcome of the case, the DP World Tour could follow the PGA TOUR’s example of banning LIV players from appearing in their tournaments – that would prevent them from winning world ranking points, and mean they would not be available for selection for the biennial Ryder Cup – although, in theory, the captains of the European and American teams could hand a wildcard pick to a LIV Golf member. That seems highly unlikely to happen.
For now, LIV Golf members are allowed to play in three of the sport’s four majors – The Masters, the US Open and the Open Championship, although they aren’t welcomed at the USPGA’s own PGA Championship.
And if their players are unable to earn world ranking points from LIV Golf events, their ability to qualify for majors in the future will be greatly hampered.
The DP World Tour had initially blocked their members from playing in LIV Golf events, but 16 defied the order to tee up in the rebel alliance’s inaugural tournament at the Centurion Club in London in June 2022.
They were fined £100,000 and told to stay away from the Scottish Open in July of that year, but a handful – including Poulter, Adrian Otaegui and Justin Harding – were able to circumnavigate the ban by launching an appeal. They were joined by more than a dozen other LIV rebels, although Garcia, Branden Grace and Charl Schwartzel would later ask to be removed from the case.
That allowed them to play in the Scottish Open and has paved the way for other LIV Golf members, such as former Masters champion Patrick Reed, to continue to play in DP World Tour events.
However, that loophole has now seemingly been closed according to reports, leaving LIV Golf alone in a Saudi-state oasis of golfing nothingness.
To make matters worse, the PGA TOUR has launched their own ‘anti-trust’ legal case against LIV Golf.