Breakaway League puts golfers on a collision course with the DP World Tour | Golf
Members of the DP World Tour who take part in the $25m (£19.9m) Saudi-backed event in Hertfordshire in June face increasing sanctions, the Permission will not be granted to those seeking to play at the Centurion Club.
Players on the DP World – formerly European – Tour must request a release to participate in the LIV Golf Invitational, which runs from June 9-11. It is the first independent event to be led by Greg Norman, whose plan to disrupt golf – backed by the Saudi Arabian Public Investment Fund – has met with severe resistance from the sport’s biggest tours.
The players were released by the DP World Tour for the Saudi International this year, but this tournament had world ranking value and was endorsed by the Asian Tour. Neither applies to the LIV Golf Invitational. The DP World Tour is now ready to fight back.
Lee Westwood, Ian Poulter, Sergio García, Richard Bland, Graeme McDowell, Louis Oosthuizen and Branden Grace are among those likely to apply for release before the May 10 DP World Tour deadline.
Every indication from their Wentworth headquarters is that players will not be allowed to play Centurion. This will leave those people with a decision to make: take their place on the pitch anyway or take their name out of the equation.
If golfers opted for the former, and barring an unplanned U-turn, they would be punished. No one at DP World Tour is ready to speculate that this might leave players themselves in the middle of a high-stakes guessing game.
Keith Pelley, chief executive of the DP World Tour, again urged members last week to consider the potential long-term ramifications – both sporting and ethical – of siding with the Saudis.
The PGA Tour’s stance on its members – including Phil Mickelson, Robert Garrigus, Bubba Watson and Harold Varner – wanting to play at the Centurion is slightly different. Unlike the DP World Tour, the PGA Tour must respond to players who requested a release before May 10. Insiders believe the PGA Tour may be stricter on LIV competitions in North America than one due to its location in the UK.
Mickelson remains absent from professional golf after controversial comments about Saudi Arabia’s human rights record emerged and it remains unclear whether he will reappear to defend the US PGA Championship next month.