A large element of the discussion of pro golfers jumping from the PGA Tour and the DP World Tour to new Saudi-backed organization LIV Golf has been about those tours booting out players who choose to play in LIV events. There are only eight LIV events set for 2022, and the 2022 schedule only sees golfers participating on a per-event basis, so there will be plenty of weeks when LIV golfers don’t have an event to play in. And while many of the majors have already indicated they’ll accept LIV competitors, the PGA Tour and the DP World Tour have not. That’s now led to some interesting legal blowback for the latter.
The PGA Tour has made it quite clear they want nothing to do with LIV players. Back in May, well before the first LIV event, they denied waiver requests from members looking to play in that LIV event. They also preemptively said they’d suspend or remove members who did play in LIV events. That led to some PGA Tour players, including Dustin Johnson, preemptively resigning from that tour to join LIV.
The PGA Tour went on to sanction players who didn’t resign, and the DP World Tour (formerly the PGA European Tour) did as well on June 24, announcing fines of £100,000 ($123,000) for its players who took part in the initial LIV event and banning LIV players from three tournaments: the Scottish Open, Barbasol Championship, and Barracuda Championship, three July events co-sanctioned with the PGA Tour. But three players who left the DP World Tour for LIV (Ian Poulter, Adrian Otaegui and Justin Harding) sued over this. And, as per Michael MacEwan of Bunkered, those players have now obtained an injunction that will allow them to play in the Scottish Open:
The International Dispute Resolution Centre, a non-profit, independent UK body, has granted three ostracised players – Ian Poulter, Adrian Otaegui, and Justin Harding – an injunction against the DP World Tour’s decision to suspend them from the tournament which gets under way at The Renaissance on Thursday.
The DP World Tour confirmed the news in a statement with chief executive Keith Pelley responding from Ireland where he is currently participating in the JP McManus Pro-Am.
Here’s that statement:
🚨#NEW: “I will simply say we are disappointed by the outcome of today’s hearing but will abide by the decision”
—DP World TOUR CEO Keith Pelley said in a statement after Ian Poulter won in a UK court. pic.twitter.com/2yxHLYbWdO
— NUCLR GOLF (@NUCLRGOLF) July 4, 2022
As Pelley notes in that statement, this is a stay of sanctions rather than a full decision against those sanctions. It’s possible that this could end with the appeal panel denying the golfers’ appeals and determining that the DP World Tour action was appropriate. But this is certainly interesting for letting Poulter (seen above during the Charles Schwab Challenge in May) Otaegui, and Harding participate in the Scottish Open, and expanding that tournament’s field size. And we’ll see what further developments this leads to.
[Bunkered; image from Jim Cowsert/USA Today Sports]