LIV Golf has paid a record fine of approximately £1.5million to ensure that Bernd Wiesberger can relaunch his career on the DP World Tour.
The Austrian Ryder Cup player is currently serving out a ban for appearing on the breakaway league before his contract ended and he lost his place in the 48-man league.
Wiesberger, 38, could have tried to win back his place at the LIV Q-School event – that takes place in Abu Dhabi in two weeks time or placed himself in LIV’s ‘free agency’ phase that might have seen him snapped by his former team – captained by Martin Kaymer – or another of the 12 outfits.
However, he submitted an application to play again on his home Tour, which was approved so long as he fulfilled the sanctions imposed for playing on LIV without permission from Wentworth HQ.
As well as a suspension that will keep him sidelined until at least the middle of January, Wiesberger was also hit with the biggest financial penalty ever in golf.
LIV settled the bill on Wiesberger’s behalf, completing an obligation made when he and others were signed last year. The golfers were originally assured by LIV chief executive Greg Norman that they would be able to play on LIV and the DP World Tour, but the rebels lost a hearing earlier this year that adjudicated that the Tour was within its right to exclude players who broke the membership rules.
That verdict saw a raft of resignations from the Tour – including those of Ryder Cup legends Lee Westwood, Ian Poulter, Henrik Stenson and Graeme McDowell – but Wiesberger resisted handing in his card, although as he only played in two Tour events this year he lost his playing privileges anyway.
And as he competed in more LIV events – he appeared in 22 in his two years on the league, collecting more than £3.5million in prize money – the fines continued to tot up leaving the eyewatering sum. He has not teed it up on Tour since the Desert Classic in January and that $8 million tournament may well be his next tournament in seven weeks time.
“Bernd Wiesberger’s application for membership for the 2024 season has been accepted by the DP World Tour,” the Tour said in a statement “Wiesberger’s membership ceased and he was removed from the Race to Dubai after he failed to comply with the Tour’s minimum counting event regulation for the 2023 season, having played in only two counting tournaments – the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship and the Hero Dubai Desert Classic.
“He subsequently expressed his desire to play a full DP World Tour schedule in 2024 and has fulfilled all sanctions – both financial and tournament suspensions – that were imposed upon him for breaches of the Tour’s conflicting event regulation across 2022 and 2023.
“Consequently, his request for reinstatement has been granted by DP World Tour chief executive Keith Pelley, in accordance with the procedure set out in the members’ regulations.”
Wisberger is exempt as one of the top 40 money-earners in the Tour’s history. He has won eight times – including the Scottish Open in 2019 – and represented Europe in the 2021 Ryder Cup defeat at Whistling Straits. He emphasised his intentions to commit fully on social media.
“I am happy to announce that my focus for next year will entirely be on the DP World Tour next year,” he posted on social media. “I have never resigned my membership and therefore I am grateful for the opportunity to be able to play a full schedule once again.”
His return highlights that there is a route back for the LIV players. However, it is understood that the likes of Westwood, Poulter and Co would have to pay their own fines because of the nature of their contracts. Yet this could change if the ongoing negotiations of a merger between the Saudi sovereign wealth fund – that bankrolls LIV – and the PGA Tour and the DP World Tour are a success and the details of a new pathway back can be agreed.