LIV Golf players vs DP World Tour: What is the hearing and why is it happening?
Ian Poulter and Lee Westwood are among the LIV Golf players appealing a DP World Tour ruling
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The rows between LIV Golf’s rebels and the rest of the golfing world continue this week with a potentially pivotal hearing in London.
After challenging a ruling made by the DP World Tour last summer, a legal team representing 13 LIV players will argue their case to an arbitration panel in London.
The hearing will be held behind closed doors at Sport Resolutions in London over five days from 6 February to 10 February.
A verdict, however, is not expected for several weeks.
But why is the hearing happening? And what might the verdict be?
Why is a hearing taking place?
Before LIV’s inaugural event at the Centurion Club last June, a number of DP World Tour requested releases to play at the London Invitational – a tournament that clashed with the DP World Tour’s Scandanavian Mixed event. The Tour denied the requests, but the players elected to ignore this and played anyway.
The DP World Tour subsequently announced that the rebels would be fined £100,000 and suspended for two tournaments (the Scottish Open and Barbasol Championship). Three players – Ian Poulter, Adrian Otaegui and Justin Harding – challenged the ruling, resulting in a staying of the punishment and allowing LIV golfers to continue to play on the DP World Tour for the last seven months.
The case will now be heard at an arbitration panel hearing. Legal teams representing the 13 appellants and the DP World Tour will argue their positions over five days at Sport Resolutions in London.
Who are the LIV players involved?
The number of appellants was originally 16, but Charl Schwartzel, Branden Grace and Sergio Garcia have withdrawn from the case. That leaves the three original challengers (Poulter, Otaegui and Harding) and ten others: Lee Westwood, Sam Horsfield, Richard Bland, Shaun Norris, Laurie Canter, Wade Ormsby, Patrick Reed, Bernd Wiesberger, Graeme McDowell and Martin Kaymer.
The case will be heard behind-closed-doors by former High Court judge His Honour Phillip Sycamore CBE and two King’s Counsels.
What does the DP World Tour say?
The DP World Tour requires players to request and be granted permission to play tournaments outside of its events. The Tour has refused releases in the past. Their legal team are expected to argue that the Tour has the right to impose sanctions.
What do the appellants say?
The LIV players claim that the Tour did not have the right to impose sanctions, and that the punishments levied against them weren’t proportionate.
What could the outcome be?
The verdict at the hearing will revolve around the DP World Tour’s regulations relating to conflicting events and the ability to enforce these rules.
If the panel finds in the Tour’s favour, and the original punishments are used as a guide for future sanctions, it is highly unlikely that any LIV golfers will be able to play on the DP World Tour this season. There are nine LIV events that clash with DP World tournaments, which would result in an 18-event suspension – the exact number of non-clashing DP World events on the rest of the 2023 calendar.
If, however, the appellants successfully argue their case, they will be allowed to continue to compete in both LIV Golf and on the DP World Tour without fearing sanction. That could open the door for more players to join the LIV series, or prompt LIV players currently without DP World Tour cards to enter the circuit and earn world ranking points that currently can’t be earned on the Saudi-backed series. A ruling could also improve the rebels chances of being considered for Ryder Cup selection later in the year.
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