DP World Tour v LIV Golf hearing: Everything you need to know as LIV loses case

LIV Golf has lost its legal battle with the DP World Tour, confirms Times report.

Ben Smith's picture
Thu, 6 Apr 2023
DP World Tour v LIV Golf hearing: Everything you need to know as LIV loses case

LIV Golf has lost its legal battle with the DP World Tour. 

According to the Times, the DP World Tour won the Sports Resolutions arbitration hearing against LIV Golf players whose £100,000 fines for competing in the inaugural LIV tournament have been upheld.

The latest news on the eve of The Masters means all LIV Golf players competing in DP World Tour tournaments will be eligible for further fines and suspensions moving forwards.

According to The Times' report, "the arbitration panel's decision is set to be announced early as Thursday afternoon."

That will happen at the same time as the first round of The Masters. 


When did the hearing take place?

The DP World Tour vs. LIV Golf hearing began in London on February 6, 2023. 

The implications were huge and, understandably, you might still have a lot of questions about what is going on. 

Who is involved? Why are they involved? Honestly, the list is endless. 

That is why GolfMagic has decided to help you out with this handy guide. 

The first thing to point out is that this was not a court case, but a sports arbitration hearing overseen by Sports Resolutions. 

Let's try and make this all a bit simpler by going back to the very beginning? 

Why was it taking place? 

LIV Golf held their inaugural event at Centurion Club last June. 

Lots of players requested tournament releases from the DP World Tour to participate in the $25m prize purse event.  

But the tournament conflicted with the Scandinavian Mixed played on European-based circuit. 

The players were denied the releases, but some disregarded them and played anyway. 

It got a little bit more complicated as some players had already penned multi-year contracts with the Saudi-financed tour. 

DP World Tour chief executive Keith Pelley later announced those players, later referred to as "rebels" were to be fined £100,000 and suspended from the Genesis Scottish Open and the Barbasol Championship and Barracuda Championship. 

What happened next? 

England's Ian Poulter was one of three players who appealed the decision to Sports Resolutions. Joining Poulter was Spain's Adrian Otageui and South Africa's Justin Harding. 

The number of appellants increased to 16, but Sergio Garcia, Branden Grace and Charl Schwartzel withdrew their names. 

Long story short, a decision on the ruling was "stayed" and no punishments were enforced. 

This subsequently allowed LIV Golf League players to continue competing on the circuit. 

Who were the remaining 13 appellants?

  • Ian Poulter
  • Adrian Otaegui 
  • Justin Harding
  • Lee Westwood
  • Sam Horsfield
  • Richard Bland 
  • Shaun Norris
  • Laurie Canter 
  • Wade Ormsby
  • Patrick Reed
  • Bernd Wiesberger
  • Graeme McDowell
  • Martin Kaymer

What happened? 

This is where it gets a bit tricky as the five-day hearing was held behind closed doors. 

What we did know is that two Kings Councils [a barrister or solicitor recognised as an expert in their legal field] along with former high court judge Phillip Sycamore heard the arguments by both sides. 

Lee Westwood confirmed he would be giving evidence in person

What did the players want?

They argued that as "independent contractors" they have the right to play anywhere, providing they fulfil the criteria for membership on any given tour. 

The appellants argued that they have not been prevented from teeing it up on rival circuits in the past, pointing to the fact that players competed in conflicting PGA Tour events before the DP World Tour entered into a "strategic alliance" with the North American circuit. 

They argued LIV Golf is no different to any other golf tour and should be recognised as such. 

What was the position of the DP World Tour?

That players competing in conflicting events has a negative effect on player participation, TV contracts and sponsorships. 

The DP World Tour argued it has the right to deny the releases. 

When did the hearing conclude? 

The hearing concluded on 10 February. A decision was then expected in a few weeks' time, but the result of the legal case did not get confirmed until the week of The Masters in early April. 

Can there be an appeal? 

Sports arbitrations are quicker and cheaper, meaning that any appeals would likely head to the courts. 

DP World Tour media officer Scott Crockett previously said: 

"Will we appeal if we lose? Will they appeal if they lose? Will their players still be able to play on the tour if they are appealing? Unfortunately, the simple and honest answer to all of that is we don't know." 

What about the Ryder Cup?

LIV Golf players are indefinitely suspended by the PGA Tour and there is an ongoing antitrust lawsuit working its way through the U.S. court system. 

With LIV players facing further fines and punishments should they continue to compete in DP World Tour events, it means they will likely not even bother competing on the former European Tour circuit.

The Times now indicates that the likes of Poulter and Westwood will "likely rescind their membership of the DP World Tour" to avoid any further fines and suspensions on the circuit. 

It also means they will have limited opportunities to earn qualifying points for the six automatic places in Europe's 12-man Ryder Cup team. 

Beyond that, the LIV players would have to rely on Luke Donald for a captain's pick. 

Given that there is a lot of animosity from Wentworth HQ, it's unlikely Donald would pick any of the "rebels". 

What would have happened if LIV players won?

They would have been able to compete on the DP World Tour.

A number of LIV players might have started playing in European tournaments to gain world ranking points. 

LIV are currently without Official World Golf Ranking accreditation which means that unless exempt they face an increasingly difficult task of being able to qualify for golf's four major championships. 

Cameron Smith, one of LIV's marquee signings, has claimed the world ranking system is now "obsolete". 

Next page: Nine players who changed their mind about LIV Golf