Golf: DP World Tour bans and fines LIV Golf rebels

The DP World Tour also said any subsequent involvement in the LIV Golf series may result in additional punishments. PHOTO: REUTERS

LONDON (AFP) - The DP World Tour on Friday (June 24) banned members who played in the inaugural Saudi-funded LIV Golf Invitational Series event from three tournaments and fined them £100,000 (S$170,500) 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 US 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.

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 US$25 million (S$34.7 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 US$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.

British Open 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.

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