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Ian Poulter has controversially been reinstated in this week’s Scottish Open after lawyers were successful in overturning his and two other players’ bans from the DP World Tour for appearing on the Saudi rebel circuit.
Despite being known as Mr Ryder Cup, Poulter instructed his legal team to challenge the European circuit’s suspension from the Renaissance event, saying he felt “offended” considering his long service and his contributions to the blue and gold cause.
South African Justin Harding and Spaniard Adrian Otaegui are also now free to tee it up at The Renaissance Club in the $8 million [£6.61 million] event starting on Thursday.
The presence of the LIV trio is sure to create tension, although the Tour has indicated it will expand the 156-man field to ensure that no golfer who was in the tournament will suddenly find himself kicked out.
Telegraph Sport revealed exclusively on Sunday that LIV pros were seeking an injunction against the DP World Tour to reinstate them in the Renaissance Club field for the event that starts on Thursday.
The unprecedented case was heard in the International Dispute Resolution Centre by Sports Resolutions, the non-profit, independent UK body that quickly settles disputes without the necessity to go to the High Court.
Speed was obviously of the essence with the field already gathered at the North Berwick links. Both sides had to agree to the decision being binding, with the judge Phillip Sycamore granting a stay of suspension with a major ruling still to come.
The Tour also fined the LIV rebels £100,000 each and have vowed to impose further punishments
“I will simply say we are disappointed by the outcome of today’s hearing, but will abide by the decision,” Keith Pelley, the DP World Tour chief executive, said. “It is important to remember, however, this is only a stay of the sanctions imposed, pending the hearing of the players’ appeal as to whether those sanctions were appropriate.”
Unlike Ryder Cup teammates Lee Westwood and Graeme McDowell, who earlier revealed that he had not been willing to put his home circuit in the dock, Poulter declared that he was “fighting for my right to play golf”.
Pouilter, 46, was a member of the “Sour 16” - as they have since been coined - who put their names to a collective sent to Wentworth HQ last week demanding the sanctions be lifted by last Friday or else they would take legal action.
And when the deadline came and passed - Pelley called the punishments “fair” and “proportionate” at the same time as ridiculing the Sour 16’s claim that they “cared deeply for the Tour” - Poulter decided to carry through on the warning.
“I feel disappointed, I feel offended, that I'm suspended from playing on a tour I've been a member of for 24 years,” he said.
Poulter maintains he has no regrets in joining a series that also features the likes of Westwood, Sergio Garcia, Martin Kaymer and new capture Paul Casey and US Ryder Cup players such as Dustin Johnson, Bryson DeChambeau, Patrick Reed, Brooks Koepka and Phil Mickelson.
It is believed Poulter received a $30m [£24.78m] signing-on fee and is adamant he has done nothing wrong, regardless of accusations that he has been disloyal to his Tour and tainted his Ryder Cup legacy.
“I will always be super proud of my commitment to the European Tour,” he said. “I have gone 24 years without ever giving up membership unlike a number of players. I won’t name names, but we know [European] players who have taken the opportunity to play the PGA Tour and earn more money. I haven't done that and always wanted to support the Tour because the Ryder Cup means so much to me.”
The PGA Tour issued lifetime bans to its mutineers - Poulter included, as a dual member - and as the Scottish Open is the first jointly-sanctioned event between the US circuit at the DP World Tour their route to the Renaissance would obviously be blocked.
How Jay Monahan, the PGA Tour commissioner, will feel seeing pros he has banished from his ranks a month ago competing for his circuit’s prize money can only be imagined.
Pelley and his board have yet to decide on future sanctions and Ryder Cup eligibility but Poulter evidently feels they had already gone too far. “We didn’t know what the consequences of playing for LIV would be,” Poulter said. “We knew there would be some form of action, but it was never spelled out to us, and I feel the action they have taken is too severe.”