Report: LIV Golf players threaten DP World Tour with legal action

The letter was signed by 16 of this week’s LIV Golf Invitational competitors in Portland.

LIV players are preparing to strike back at the DP World Tour, and have threatened legal action, claiming the punishment handed out against them for jumping ship to the upstart league has been “grossly unfair and likely unlawful.”

As first reported by the Daily Telegraph, Ian Poulter and Lee Westwood are among 16 players that have been fined and banned from playing in the Genesis Scottish Open, which will be contested at the Renaissance Club in Berwick next week as a co-sanctioned event between the DP World Tour and the PGA Tour. In an open letter, the players said there would be legal actions against the DP World Tour unless the current sanctions are overturned by Friday.

The LIV players were hit with fines of 100,000 pounds plus are ineligible for three upcoming tournaments, including the Scottish Open, last Friday.

The letter was signed by 16 of this week’s LIV Golf Invitational competitors in Portland, who likely will be punished for playing in the event. It was addressed to the DP World Tour chief executive Keith Pelley and sent to other board members, and asked for the circuit to negotiate in good faith with the Saudi-backed circuit, or face the risk of legal action.

The letter, in part, read: “In Mr. Pelley’s latest communication, he uses the statement that every action in life comes with a consequence. We agree, and we are concerned that the actions of the Tour against us, LIV Golf, and golf in general will have adverse consequences on the DP World Tour, a tour and an organization that, despite our recent interactions, we care deeply for.

“The intention of this letter is not to further divide us, but to respond to Tour statements and to pose questions that the Tour should answer and we should discuss in detail. 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.

“To this end, we ask that you rescind your fines and suspensions by 5:00 pm on Friday, July 1, 2022. In addition, we represent over 5 percent of the DP World Tour membership and, under its articles of association, we ask you to convene a meeting of Tour membership to discuss these important matters further. If not, you will leave us with no choice but to employ the various other means and methods at our disposal to rectify these wrongs.”

The letter also expressed concern that the DP World Tour’s recently announced expanded relationship with the PGA Tour isn’t in the best interest of the circuit and will leave the DP World Tour in a diminished position, playing “second fiddle.”

“We appreciate that the argument being put forward is that the ‘strategic alliance’ with the PGA Tour will provide overall benefit to DP World Tour members — hence the competitive threat to the PGA Tour being treated differently when it comes to releases and other matters,” the letter said.

“To begin with, we do not accept that protecting the PGA Tour through this alliance could in any way justify this disparate treatment. Even if it could, what are these benefits? This is a question we have asked for many months.

“Thus far, the option to play the Barracuda Championship instead of the Scottish Open doesn’t appear to be one that benefits the membership at all. Ultimately, approximately 40 DP World Tour members who would have been eligible for the Scottish Open on the DP World tour will now not be eligible, and instead will only have the option to go and play on the PGA Tour in Kentucky the week before The Open, for less money but at a higher cost to participate.

“In addition, PGA Tour players have been encouraged to play the Scottish Open through a stipend to cover travel costs, but the same benefit is not afforded to DP World Tour members?! That the DP World Tour top performers will now earn PGA Tour cards serves only to solidify the DP World Tour as second fiddle to the PGA Tour and depletes the DP World Tour’s top rising talent even further. And without regard to whether this collaboration is lawful, would this collaboration be happening without LIV Golf entering the market?”

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5 things we learned from the Jay Monahan-Keith Pelley press conference about the PGA Tour-DP World Tour ‘joint venture’

The PGA Tour needed to keep an ally in the DP World Tour and prevent LIV Golf from sinking its tentacles in.

The PGA Tour and DP World Tour expanded and strengthened their strategic alliance into an operational joint venture partnership.

“The more our teams have worked together the more one thing became clear: We are better working together than separately,” PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan said.

The PGA Tour badly needed to keep an ally in the DP World Tour and prevent LIV Golf from sinking its tentacles – and deep pockets – into a circuit with a global footprint.

The PGA Tour dipped into its coffers to increase its stakes in European Tour Productions and guaranteed that prize funds will increase over the next five years. It’s a win for Monahan, who added, “The game of golf is rallying. Our members, partners and fans are rallying. Today’s announcement should serve as further evidence that the ecosystem of professional golf continues to innovate and thrive.”

Here are five things we learned from Monahan and Pelley’s press conference on Tuesday:

PGA Tour ramps up ‘joint venture’ with DP World Tour, adds bigger purses, Tour cards

The top 10 finishers in the Race to Dubai will earn PGA Tour cards.

The PGA Tour and DP World Tour announced on Tuesday that they have upgraded their previous “strategic alliance” to an “operational joint venture partnership” as part of a 13-year deal.

“It was clear from the outset that our Strategic Partnership with the European Tour Group was a powerful agreement for both sides, and we are thrilled with today’s announcement of this expanded partnership,” said PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan.

What that actually means is the PGA Tour is increasing its investment in the circuit formally known as the European Tour, including prize fund levels, which are set to grow annually for the next five years.

As part of the new joint venture, the PGA Tour will increase its existing stake in the European Tour Productions from 15 percent to 40 percent, and use the circuit’s existing global footprint to coordinate a worldwide schedule.

The joint venture also provides a formal pathway from the DP World Tour to the PGA Tour for the first time. As such, beginning in 2023, the leading ten players on the end of season DP World Tour Rankings [in addition to those already exempt] will earn PGA Tour cards.

It also provides a clearly defined pathway for top players around the world. Players from the Sunshine Tour and ISPS Handa PGA Tour of Australasia, with whom the DP World Tour already has existing strategic alliances, will enjoy a formal pathway to the DP World Tour.

“This move will significantly enhance the meritocracy that has successfully served the professional game on both sides of the Atlantic for more than 50 years,” DP World Tour executive director Keith Pelley said. “It is a natural extension and progression of what we have been doing over the past few years and I passionately believe that this move is the right thing for our players, our Tour, our fans, and the game of golf in general.

“Our two tours have undoubtedly drawn closer over the past few years and today’s announcement strengthens both Tours for the betterment of both memberships.”

Terms of the PGA Tour’s financial support and investment in the DP World Tour weren’t disclosed by either party. Sources say the Tour will pour about $100 million into its business partner.

The strategic alliance originally was struck in November 2020 as a defense mechanism against the formation of the Premier Golf League and to fend off the Saudi-backed LIV Golf. Members of the DP World Tour reportedly have been split, with some players wanting Pelley to issue harsh penalties on defectors to LIV Golf and others asking for him to spurn the PGA Tour and reach an agreement with LIV Golf. In many ways, the future of men’s professional golf hung in the balance as Pelley weighed the DP World Tour’s options. This marks a significant victory for Monahan.

“We will continue to collaborate on a global schedule and key commercial areas as we draw our organizations and memberships even closer together while innovating to provide the most entertaining and compelling golf possible to fans around the world,” Monahan said.

The original partnership included collaboration on issues such as media, playing opportunities, scheduling and prize funds and was widely perceived as the first step toward an eventual merger of the two bodies.

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Haotong Li makes 40-foot putt to win 2022 BMW International Open in playoff, gets highly emotional during celebration

Li drained a 40-foot putt to snap a four-year winless streak. An emotional outburst soon followed.

It took four and a half years, but Haotong Li has finally won again following a week of wild emotional swings.

Li, who had a stretch of 13 missed cuts in 16 outings, admitted after the tournament that 10 months ago he considered quitting the game.

He started the final round Sunday with a five-shot lead at the 2022 BMW International Open in Munich, Germany, but it slowly dwindled away over the final 18 holes. Nonetheless, he had a chance to win the tournament but he lipped out a birdie putt on the 18th hole so he went to a playoff with Thomas Pieters tied at 22 under.

On the first playoff hole, Li blasted his third shot 40 feet past the hole. He later said he thought he gave away the tournament with that blunder.

But Li kept his head and went on to drain a 40-foot bomb, setting off a wild celebration.

The win wasn’t official until Pieters failed to make his matching birdie putt from 10 feet out, which would have extended the playoff.

That’s when Li was overcome with emotion, dropping to his knees, sobbing loudly.

In the aftermath, Li was criticized by some for making little to no effort to congratulate Pieters.

Li also dropped a pair of F-bombs during his post-round interview. (Warning: explicit language)

Li earned $416,000 for the win.

“I don’t have the words to describe right now,” he said. “Ten months ago I just literally decided to quit golf, and somehow where I am now, it’s just hard to describe. I had no idea I could win this play-off. Luckily things happened for me again.”

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DP World Tour sanctions LIV pros, including ban from Genesis Scottish Open

“Their actions are not fair to the majority of our membership and undermine the Tour.”

The Genesis Scottish Open will be missing several big names from the field in two weeks.

On Friday, DP World Tour chief executive Keith Pelley banned golfers who competed in the LIV Golf Series from three tournaments, including the Scottish Open, which is being co-sanctioned by the PGA Tour for the first time as part of a “strategic alliance” between the two circuits.

“Every action anyone takes in life comes with a consequence and it is no different in professional sport, especially if a person chooses to break the rules,” Pelley said. “That is what has occurred here with several of our members.”

The tour announced any players who took part in the inaugural LIV event would be ineligible from competing in the Scottish as well as the Barbasol Championship and Barracuda Championship, which are PGA Tour opposite-field events that are being co-sanctioned with the DP World Tour for the first time. PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan previously suspended 17 players who violated Tour rules by competing in the LIV debut event. Pelley also announced that players would be fined 100,000 pounds, or approximately $123,000, and noted that participation in further conflicting tournaments without the required release “may incur further sanctions.”

“Many members I have spoken to in recent weeks expressed the viewpoint that those who have chosen this route have not only disrespected them and our Tour, but also the meritocratic ecosystem of professional golf that has been the bedrock of our game for the past half a century and which will also be the foundation upon which we build the next 50 years,” Pelley said. “Their actions are not fair to the majority of our membership and undermine the Tour, which is why we are taking the action we have announced today.”

Pelley’s announcement was released while several European Tour stars who have defected from the PGA Tour to the Saudi-backed rival league were competing at this week’s BMW International Open, including Sergio Garcia, Martin Kaymer, and South African Louis Oosthuizen. Allowing LIV players to compete there citing different tour regulations from the PGA Tour made it appear that the DP World Tour might be a safe haven for pros banned indefinitely from the PGA Tour to play beyond LIV Golf’s eight events this season. But Pelley has closed that loophole at least for co-sanctioned events with the PGA Tour, for now.

Four-time major winner Brooks Koepka, who signed with LIV Golf this week, had been announced as part of the Scottish Open field, at The Renaissance Club from July 7-10. It has long been a popular warmup for the British Open the following week. The field is expected to include world No. 1 Scottie Scheffler, reigning British Open champion Collin Morikawa, reigning PGA champion Justin Thomas and Jon Rahm.

Sky Sports News reported that fines for DP World Tour players are set to double for those playing in each future conflicting event. It also noted that LIV “will not pay the fines, only possible legal fees players incur for appealing the sanctions.”

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DP World Tour opts not to punish LIV players (for now); could it partner with LIV or strengthen ‘strategic allegiance’ with PGA Tour?

Keith Pelley is facing a critical decision that could play a key role in defining the future of professional golf.

Could the DP World Tour play a pivotal role in the future direction of men’s professional golf?

As first reported by Golf Digest, the circuit, which has long played second fiddle to the PGA Tour, is reportedly debating whether to take the next step to strengthen its “strategic alliance” with the PGA Tour or jump into bed with LIV Golf.

Last week’s LIV Golf debut event included several DP World Tour members, including Sergio Garcia, Ian Poulter, Richard Bland, Lee Westwood, Sergio Garcia, Martin Kaymer and Bernd Wiesberger. While PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan was quick to suspend any members who violated Tour regulations, Keith Pelley, the CEO of DP World Tour, remained quiet on the matter and several DP Tour members remain signed up for next week’s BMW International Open in Munich, Germany. On Tuesday, Pelley broke his silence in a memo sent to players:

“From many of your messages and my conversations, I know that many of you share the same viewpoint that Jay Monahan expressed in his note to PGA Tour members,” Pelley wrote in a letter leaked to Golf Channel initially. “Namely that the players who have chosen this route have disrespected the vast majority of the members of this Tour.”

“Some members asked me why we simply do not follow what the PGA Tour have done and immediately suspend these players,” Pelley continued. “While I understand the frustration, I remind you all that although we work closely with the PGA Tour, we are different organizations and our rules and regulations are therefore different too…”

A decision on how violators of its policies will be dealt with will be handed down on June 23. That happens to be the same date as the commitment deadline for the Genesis Scottish Open, which for the first time is scheduled to be co-sanctioned by the two premier circuits.

That is if Pelley, who struck a strategic alliance with the PGA Tour in late 2020, doesn’t do an about-face and strike a relationship with upstart LIV Golf.

“I heard on Sunday that Pelley might be thinking of a U-turn,” a multiple-time DP World Tour winner told Golf Digest. “I think that is very disappointing. But I’m not surprised. Pelley has never been very truthful in what he has told the players. I understand you have to make some decisions that are best kept behind closed doors. But I think this is something that went too far down that path. We should have been told what was going on right from the start. The motivation for this I think is coming from the pressure Pelley is feeling from tournament sponsors. They won’t be liking the fact that they are losing some of their star players. … Pelley is not coming out of this too well. I think it will be the end of his reign. How can you go into a strategic alliance with the PGA Tour then six months later — after they found sponsors for the Irish Open and the Scottish Open — backstab them like this?”

The Golf Digest story also noted that Pelley attended the LIV Golf Invitational Series debut event near London last week. On Wednesday, the DP World Tour released the following statement: “We are aware of some reports in the media that DP World Tour Chief Executive Keith Pelley attended the event at Centurion Club last week. This is categorically untrue as Keith was in Sweden attending the Volvo Car Scandinavian Mixed tournament.”

What is clear is that Pelley is facing a critical decision that could play a key role in defining the future hierarchy of professional golf.

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Linn Grant becomes first woman to win on DP World Tour, crushing field of men and women by nine shots at Scandinavian Mixed

One week after an historic $10 million purse at the U.S. Women’s Open, Linn Grant made another leap for the game.

One week after the women played for an historic $10 million purse at the U.S. Women’s Open, Linn Grant made another leap for the game by becoming the first woman to win on the DP World Tour.

Grant, 22, crushed the field of 78 men and women by nine strokes with a closing 64 at the Scandinavian Mixed, hosted by Henrik and Annika. The nearest woman finished 14 back.

Beating the men, she said, was most important.

“All week i just felt like it’s the girls against the guys,” she said, “and whoever picks up that trophy represents the field.”

Grant, a former Arizona State standout, came into the final round with a two-stroke lead and birdied five of the first six holes at Halmstad Golf Club to begin her tear. She posted 26 birdies and an eagle in her 24-under performance in front of massive crowds. Her nine-stroke victory is the largest on the DP World Tour so far this season.

2022 Volvo Car Scandinavian Mixed
Linn Grant is presented with the trophy by tournament hosts Annika Sorenstam and Henrik Stenson after winnng the 2022 Volvo Car Scandinavian Mixed Hosted by Henrik & Annika at Halmstad Golf Club in Sweden. (Photo by Jan Kruger/Getty Images)

Swedish co-host Henrik Stenson, a six-time winner on the PGA Tour, including the 2016 British Open, finished second along with Scotland’s Marc Warren, who closed with a 65. Stenson shot 70 on Sunday.

The unique event, co-sanctioned by the LET and DP World Tour, features two different sets of tees for the men and women, who competed for the same $2 million purse. A total of 30 Swedes took part in the competition. Grant, who lives about an hour away from the course, embraced Swedish icon Annika Sorenstam after her extraordinary triumph.

Grant has now won three times in six starts this season, including her last event, The Mithra Belgian Ladies Open in late May. Grant won $30,000 for that victory in Belgium, and $319,717 dollars for the Scandinavian Mixed.

“I just hope that people recognize women’s golf, more sponsors go to LET than the men’s tour,” said Grant. “Hopefully this pumps up the women’s game a little bit more.”

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Jason Scrivener leads Scandinavian Mixed but there’s an Arizona Wildcat freshman tied for second

Jason Scrivener leads but just two shots back are two women, including a 19-year-old college student.

The Scandinavian Mixed 2022 is a unique event in pro golf, with a field of 78 men and 78 women from the DP World Tour and the LET competing against each other for one trophy and one first-place check.

After two rounds, Jason Scrivener is 12 under and holds a two-shot lead. He had eight birdies Friday, including four in a row on his back nine, en route to a 64. He’s 214th in the latest Official World Golf Ranking and has yet to win on the DP Tour.

There’s a three-way tie for second at 10 under and there are two women in that group, including Italian Carolina Melgrati, 19, who just finished her freshman year at the University of Arizona. She started her week with a 65 and was tied for the lead after the first round. A second-round 69 has her in contention to win as an amateur this week.

2022 Volvo Car Scandinavian Mixed
Carolina Melgrati on the 15th green during the 2022 Volvo Car Scandinavian Mixed Hosted by Henrik & Annika at Halmstad Golf Club in Sweden. (Photo: Naomi Baker/Getty Images)

“It is crazy! It is so great,” Melgrati said after her first round. “As soon as I got the invitation, I said yes, I’m playing because it is great to compete with professional golfers. It is amazing and that is also my dream, so it is coming true.”

Melgrati is joined at 10 under by Linn Grant, a former Arizona State standout who turned pro last September. Playing in her native Sweden, Grant won two weeks ago at The Mithra Belgian Ladies Open.

Also at 10 under is Mike Lorenzo-Vera.

The event has Volvo Car as the title sponsor, is co-hosted by Annika Sorenstam and Henrik Stenson and is being staged at Halmstad Golf Club in Halmstad, Sweden.

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DP World Tour: 13 players WD or RETD at the Porsche European Open when hopes of making the cut were gone

Four of the 13 players who WD or RETD from the event carded an 80 in the opening round.

This week the DP World Tour (formally known as the European Tour) is in Hamburg, Germany, for the Porsche European Open at Green Eagle Golf Courses.

It’s a tough track.

How tough? Well, the cut came in at 4 over and the players currently in last heading into the final round are at 12 over.

But, it gets worse. Four of the 13 players who WD or RETD from the event carded an 80 in the opening round. One player, Sebastian Garcia Rodriguez, shot a 16-over (!!) 88.

Many fans on social media are upset with the players, stating it’s disrespectful to not only the event’s host but the sponsors of the tournament as well as the other players in the field.

South African pro Christiaan Bezuidenhout, who is currently 62nd in the Official World Golf Ranking, was among those who brought up the issue.

Victor Perez has the 54-hole lead at 5 under, and the highest-ranked player within striking distance is Tommy Fleetwood, who is even.

Here’s a complete look at the bottom of the leaderboard:

Screenshot from DP World Tour site.

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Golf equipment makers are silent so far on future of sponsorship deals with PGA Tour players who intend to play first LIV Golf event

It remains unclear if equipment makers will continue to support players headed to the new Saudi Arabia-backed tour.

In the hours following the announcement that Dustin Johnson and several other PGA Tour and international players intend to compete in the new LIV Golf Series’ first tournament June 9–11 near London, the equipment companies that supply those players with gear have remained mum about player relationships and sponsorship deals.

That leaves it unclear if equipment makers will continue to support players on the new Saudi Arabia-backed tour. The LIV tour released its initial player list Tuesday evening, and as of Wednesday morning many of those players are still featured on equipment websites such as taylormadegolf.com, callawaygolf.com and pinggolf.com, as examples.

When asked by Golfweek‘s David Dusek via email Tuesday night if former world No. 1 Johnson will continue to wear TaylorMade hats and use branded bags, a TaylorMade representative responded, “We have no comment to make at this time.” That response also included Sergio Garcia’s use of a TaylorMade bag. Other companies such as Ping and Adidas did not respond to initial emails seeking comment.

This initial non-reaction follows Callaway’s sponsorship “pause” with Phil Mickelson several days after his comments about his motivations to join the LIV circuit were published by author Alan Shipnuck in February. Those comments included calling the Saudi backers of the new series “scary motherf——” and explained he was interested in documented Saudi human rights offenses less than in gaining financial leverage on the PGA Tour, which he called obnoxiously greedy.

Mickelson wasn’t included on the initial player list for the opening LIV event, although it’s possible he still might play. Mickelson has not played the PGA Tour since those comments and has visited his parents’ home in California during the week of the recent PGA Championship, where he was defending champion.

None of the players on the field list have made such outlandish publicized comments, possibly making it easier for equipment makers to ride out any potential controversy as the PGA Tour and the LIV Golf Series engage in battle and players jump ship.

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