DP World Tour chief executive Keith Pelley didn’t take kindly to the threat of potential legal action brought by LIV Golf players against his organization.
On Friday, Pelley responded to a letter he and other board members received earlier this week from 16 players who are playing in the upstart, Saudi Arabia-backed golf league that is disrupting the world order of professional golf.
First reported by The Daily Telegraph, the 16 players threatened legal action against the DP World Tour for punishment administered for joining the upstart rival league. The 16 players, including Lee Westwood and Ian Poulter, were banned from playing in next week’s Genesis Scottish Open, which is co-sanctioned by the PGA Tour (the PGA Tour indefinitely suspended members who joined the league). Fines of 100,000 pounds were handed out to each player, and they are ineligible for three upcoming tournaments.
The players received their punishment after the first LIV Golf Invitational Series event was played in London last month. Players who made their debut this week in the second event in Portland, Oregon, will also be punished.
The letter said there would be legal action taken against the DP World Tour if the sanctions are not lifted by today.
Pelley gave his answer in a blistering retort.
“Before joining LIV Golf, players knew there would be consequences if they chose money over competition,” Pelley said in a release. “Many of them at the time understood and accepted that. Indeed, as one player named in the letter said in a media interview earlier this year, ‘If they ban me, they ban me.’ It is not credible that some are now surprised with the actions we have taken.
“The letter claims that these players ‘care deeply’ for the DP World Tour. An analysis of the past participation statistics on our Tour in recent years of several of the leading players named, suggests otherwise. One player in particular named in the note has only played six Rolex Series events in the past five years. Another one, only four. I wish many of them had been as keen to play on our Tour then as they seem to be now, based on the fact they have either resigned their membership of the PGA Tour or, if they are still in membership, have been suspended indefinitely.
“Furthermore, given how deeply these players say they care about the DP World Tour, perhaps some of them could have played in Ireland this week in support of our new title sponsor, in particular one player who gave us a signed commitment to play at Mount Juliet.”
Part of the letter from the 16 LIV Golf players read the intention of said letter is not to further divide us: “Instead of spending our time, energy, financial resources, and focus on appeals, injunctions, and lawsuits, we would implore you, the custodians of the DP World Tour, to reconsider your recent penalties and sanctions, and instead focus our energies on forging a path forward that is better for the DP World Tour members and the game of golf.”
Pelley said the DP World Tour is focusing on the future, which included a strategic alliance with the PGA Tour.
“The DP World Tour is a vibrant, independent and global Tour with increasing and guaranteed prize fund growth over the next five years. We have fantastic tournaments across the year including a host of wonderful national Opens, all played in front of huge crowds, illustrated perfectly by this week’s Horizon Irish Open,” Pelley said. “Finally, it would not be appropriate for me to comment on any potential legal matters. I will simply reiterate that our Members’ Regulations which have been in force for more than 30 years, have been accepted by all the players, are there to protect all of our members, and we will use them to take all necessary steps to protect their interests.
“The sanctions for those members who knowingly broke our rules by playing at the Centurion Club without a release are proportionate, fair and, I believe, considered necessary by the majority of our members.”