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Pelley furious as rebels want Scottish Open ban lifted

Lee Westwood at Scottish Open 2018 (DBG)
Lee Westwood: letter (pic: Terry Murden)

Golf’s war of words has intensified with DP World Tour chief executive Keith Pelley hitting out at the LIV rebels demanding their bans from the upcoming Scottish Open are overturned.

European Ryder Cup stars Ian Poulter and Lee Westwood are among 16 players who have threatened legal action if the sanctions imposed for playing last month’s inaugural LIV event at the Centurion Club are not lifted.

The rebels made their case in an open letter leaked to the media, in which they stressed they ‘care deeply’ for the DP World Tour. However, Pelley gave their statement short shrift with his own strongly-worded response.

He said: “There has been a leak to the media of a letter we received on behalf of a number of LIV Golf players which contains so many inaccuracies that it cannot remain unchallenged.

“Before joining LIV Golf, players knew there would be consequences if they chose money over competition. 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 (this week’s Irish Open venue).

“With that player currently in action at Pumpkin Ridge (where the second LIV Golf event started in Oregon yesterday), you can imagine the allegation in the letter that we are in the wrong, is hard to accept.

Rebel: Ian Poulter

“The letter also expresses supposed concern about the future of the DP World Tour. Rest assured no-one should have any worries on that score.

“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 added: “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.”

DP World Tour members including Poulter and Westwood were each fined £100,000 and banned from the Scottish Open at the Renaissance Club in East Lothian next week along with two other events co-sanctioned with the PGA Tour after playing at Centurion Club without permission.

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The rebels’ letter included a deadline of 5pm this afternoon for the punishments to be lifted.

It read: “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 organisation that, despite our recent interactions, we care deeply for.

“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 per cent 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.”

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