And so it goes on. In the wake of the DP World Tour’s arbitration-hearing victory during LIV Golf past month, four long-standing members – Sergio Garcia, Lee Westwood, Richard Bland and Ian Poulter – have resigned from the Old World circuit. All four were in breach of the tour’s tournament release regulation and so were liable to the sanctions imposed on members in breach of that rule. In this case, each were among those fined £100,000 for their participation in the inaugural LIV event at the Centurion Club outside London last June.
In turn, they are now all ineligible to compete in this year’s Ryder Cup, ending any late hopes that somehow they could play for Europe in Rome this September.
The timing of the resignations is no coincidence. The players had 30 days from the date of the Sports Resolution UK panel decision (on April 6) to either pay the aforementioned fines or relinquish their memberships.
In a statement, the DP World Tour thanked the players for their contributions they have all made to the tour, especially those of Garcia, Poulter and Westwood (all three are lifetime honorary members) for “the significant part they have played in Europe’s success in the Ryder Cup over the years”. Those contributions – which added up to 28 appearances collectively – as well as any prospect of future captaincies, can now be assumed to be at an end.
“Their resignations, however, along with the sanctions imposed upon them, are a consequence of their own choices,” the DP World Tour statement underlined. “As we have consistently maintained throughout the past year, the Tour has a responsibility to its entire membership to administer the member regulations which each player signs up to. These regulations are in place to protect the collective interests of all DP World Tour members.”
Speaking to the Daily Telegraph, Westwood revealed that he had actually paid his fine, one that was applied to 17 players in total, prior to submitting his resignation.
“This is a sad day, but I could not really see any other option with all the punishments hanging over me,” said the 50-year-old former world No.1. “I don’t agree with the direction [chief executive] Keith [Pelley] and his board have taken and I want to move on.”
A further update on other members sanctioned will be released later today. It is understood that some, like Westwood, have already paid their fines; others have not. By way of example, the presence of Adrian Otaegui in the field for this week’s Italian Open presumably means that the Spaniard who has participated in multiple LIV events but none since last September has already settled his debt with the DP World Tour.
Interestingly it was Otaegui who helped set the arbitration case in motion in the first place. After the DP World Tour’s fine and suspension of 17 members who fled to the fledgling Saudi-backed circuit last June for the inaugural LIV Golf event in London, a group of players led by Otaegui, Poulter and Justin Harding filed an appeal against the Old World circuit. The LIV members were granted an injunction to enter the Genesis Scottish Open, pending a full hearing before the arbitration panel in February, in which LIV players like Westwood and Patrick Reed testified.
Garcia, Poulter and Westwood were a part of the 2021 Ryder Cup, which the United States won soundly at Whistling Straits. Garcia, the all-time points leader for the European team, was the only player of the four to resign that was likely to garner any serious consideration for this year’s match in Rome.