The DP World Tour has emerged victorious in an arbitration dispute against LIV Golf players, its rival golf league. The dispute arose when the DP World Tour demanded that players participating in conflicting events without release face sanctions of £100,000 ($124,788). LIV Golf players frequently participated in DP World Tour events, such as the Scottish Open, BMW PGA Championship, Alfred Dunhill Links Championship, and Dubai Desert Classic, to earn Official World Golf Rankings (OWGR) points that LIV Golf events do not receive.
The arbitration dispute started when the DP World Tour sought to suspend players who participated in the first LIV Golf tournament. The Sport Resolutions, an arbitration and mediation service in the UK, issued a stay on the suspensions, and the DP World Tour paid £100,000 penalties to Ian Poulter, Adrian Otaegui, and Justin Harding to participate in the Scottish Open, a co-sanctioned event with the PGA Tour. However, with this recent decision, the three players are now responsible for paying the original £100,000 penalty.
The five-day arbitration hearing was confidential and held before a panel of three. Ian Poulter and two other players initially challenged the European tour’s regulations and requested a conflicting-event release to play the first LIV event in London last year but were denied and fined £100,000. Those players appealed those fines and suspensions and were allowed to participate in DP World Tour events until February’s hearing before Sports Resolutions UK.
The DP World Tour’s victory has significant implications as players who compete in LIV Golf events now face a choice: compete in LIV Golf events but forego participation in DP World Tour events, or vice versa. This decision will now close the door for LIV Golf players to earn crucial OWGR points, as Talor Gooch’s actions have underscored. Gooch needed and ultimately received vital OWGR points ahead of the BMW PGA Championship in the fall of 2022 to stay inside the top 50 of the rankings by the year’s end. He earned his invitation to the 2023 Masters when he finished in solo fourth at Wentworth.
The DP World Tour’s victory is likely to prompt a mass exodus of LIV Golf players from the tour as they seek to avoid the hefty sanctions imposed by the DP World Tour for playing in conflicting events. The number of players who joined LIV Golf and were challenging the European tour’s regulations grew to 13, with a group of three PGA Tour players similarly challenging the circuit’s conflicting-event release regulations in an anti-trust lawsuit filed in US District Court last year. That lawsuit is scheduled for trial in January 2024.
In conclusion, the DP World Tour’s arbitration victory is a significant milestone for the tour, signaling its determination to maintain its dominance and authority over professional golf. It also highlights the challenge posed by LIV Golf, a rival golf league that is looking to disrupt the established order and create new opportunities for players. The coming months and years will be crucial for both tours as they seek to chart their respective paths in the world of professional golf.
The DP World Tour has been a major player in the world of professional golf since its inception in 2009. It is the premier golf tour in the Middle East, Asia, and Africa, and its flagship event, the DP World Tour Championship, is one of the most prestigious events on the European Tour. The tour has also been a pioneer in promoting golf in emerging markets, with events held in countries such as Turkey, India, and Hong Kong.
On the other hand, LIV Golf is a relatively new entrant in the world of professional golf, having been founded in 2020. It aims to create a new platform for golfers and fans by offering a fresh approach.