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DP World Tour announce Scottish Open bans for LIV Golf rebels – but sanctions are limited

Lee Westwood is one of the players fined £100,000 and banned from the Scottish Open by the DP World Tour.

The DP World Tour’s own regulations – or perhaps the lack of them – mean that they will have to take LIV Golf rebels on a tournament-by-tournament basis.

Those members who played at LIV’s opening event at Centurion earlier this month have been fined £100,000. That’s the fine for breaching Tour regulations in playing in a competing event without a player release.

They’ve also been banned from the Genesis Scottish Open on July 7-10. They’re also banned from the two other events co-sanctioned with the PGA Tour under the strategic partnership. Those are the Barbasol Championship (July 7-10) and the Barracuda Championship (July 14-17).

The PGA Tour indefinitely suspended their 17 members – including Phil Mickelson and Dustin Johnson – who played at Centurion. The same sanction awaits Brooks Koepka, Patrick Reed and Bryson DeChambeau, who have indicated their intention to play in the second LIV event in Portland next week.

Limited, piecemeal sanctions

However the DP World Tour’s less restrictive regulations mean sanctions are piecemeal. Really, the only effective punishment here is banning the rebels from the Scottish Open, at Renaissance near North Berwick in two weeks.

And the co-sanctioning agreement with the PGA Tour made that unavoidable. At least if Wentworth was not to break ranks entirely with their strategic partners.

Greg Norman, the front man for Saudi-financed LIV Golf, has already said they will pay all fines and legal fees incurred by players.

£100,000 is actually just a touch less than the guaranteed fee for playing at Centurion. It’s also not really a significant sum for most of these players, even before they signed up for the millions available on the rebel tour.

For what it’s worth, the fines will be added to existing prizefunds and the tour’s Golf for Good charity drive.

‘Disrespected our tour’

The DP World tour stressed in a statement that “participation in a further conflicting tournament or tournaments without the required release may incur further sanctions.”

Chief Executive Keith Pelley said that consequences were necessary for tour members who broke the rules.

“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,” he 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.”

Keith Pelley still in a tight spot

But the limited sanctions announced on Friday do little more than kick this extremely awkward can down the road.

Rebels have already signed up for LIV’s next tournament in Portland, which clashes with the Irish Open. Will they be banned from DP World events that are not co-sanctioned with the PGA Tour?

Pelley is in a tight spot balancing the views of the players he cites in his statement. They’re probably a large majority of his members. But there are others who think he should have linked the tour to Saudis when he had the chance.

He also has to balance valuable and often long-standing sponsors. Many do not want name players banned from playing in their events.

BMW, sponsors of this week’s tour event and the flagship PGA Championship are thought to be uneasy with player bans. Johann Rupert, who runs the lucrative annual Alfred Dunhill Links Championship, is understood to share this view.

The Ryder Cup will be another issue soon. The qualification process for the event in Rome next year begins in September. European team stalwarts like Sergio Garcia, Ian Poulter and Lee Westwood have all signed up to LIV Golf.