The DP World Tour, previously the European Tour, has reacted to a letter from sixteen LIV Golf series players who are threatening legal action after being sanctioned for competing in the series’ first tournament in London.
DP World Tour CEO Keith Pelley told CNN that the letter, which was published in an exclusive piece in The Telegraph, included “so many falsehoods” that it couldn’t go unchecked.
The Tour penalised the 16 players £100,000 ($121,230) each and barred them from numerous events, including the Scottish Open, last week for competing in the inaugural event of the LIV Golf series without official authorization.
According to the DP World Tour Members’ General Regulations Handbook, players must get a release in order to compete in an event that is scheduled concurrently with a DP World Tour event.
The Tour also warned that future participation in the Saudi-backed breakaway series would result in additional punishments if the requisite release was not obtained.
According to the Telegraph, Lee Westwood and Ian Poulter, along with 14 other golfers, requested the DP World Tour in an open letter on Thursday to cancel the fines and enable them to compete in next week’s Scottish Open by 5 p.m. on Friday, July 8.
“Instead of spending our time, energy, financial resources and focus on appeals, injunctions and lawsuits, we would implore you … to reconsider your recent penalties and sanctions,” the letter read, according to the Telegraph.
“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 DP World Tour’s Pelley says the players knew about the potential consequences before they participated in the event in London.
“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,” Pelley said.
“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 PGA Tour announced last month that all players who competed in the contentious series would be barred from participating in Tour-sanctioned tournaments indefinitely.
LIV Golf is organised by LIV Golf Investments and supported by Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF), a sovereign wealth fund chaired by Mohammed bin Salman, Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince and the man named in a US intelligence report as having approved the operation that resulted in the 2018 murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
The crown prince has denied that he ordered Khashoggi’s murder but has said that he bears responsibility. “This was a heinous crime,” he said in an interview with CBS in 2019.
“But I take full responsibility as a leader in Saudi Arabia, especially since it was committed by individuals working for the Saudi government.”