The DP World Tour has won its legal battle to be able to suspend and fine LIV Golf players who featured in conflicting events without permission.
The independent UK-based panel of Sports Resolutions found in its favour on Thursday meaning the likes of Ian Poulter, Lee Westwood and Martin Kaymer have been ordered to pay the £100,000 ($125,000) fines originally imposed within 30 days.
The panel found that the 12 players committed “serious breaches” of the European Tour’s code of behaviour by playing in LIVGolf events last year despite requests to be released having been refused.
Keith Pelley, the European Tour chief executive, welcomed the tribunal’s decision. “We are delighted that the panel recognised we have a responsibility to our full membership to do this and also determined that the process we followed was fair and proportionate,” he said.
“In deciding the level of these sanctions last June, we were simply administering the regulations which were created by our members and which each of them signed up to.
“It is, of course, regrettable that resources, both financial and staffing, which could have been otherwise deployed across our organisation, have been impacted by this lengthy arbitration process.
“However, with the clarity provided by today's decision, we look forward to continuing to focus on our 2023 global schedule, whilst also continuing to plan for 2024 with the valued support of our many partners and stakeholders.
“We will now carefully consider the details of today's decision with our Board, our Tournament Committee and our legal advisers and take the appropriate action in due course.”
The tour imposed the fine on members competing at the inaugural LIV event at the Centurion Club last June and suspended them from the Scottish Open. Poulter, Adrian Otaegui of Spain and Justin Harding of South Africa appealed, allowing LIV players to compete in European tour events.
Sports Resolution heard the case in February over five days of private hearings, with Westwood, Sergio Garcia, Patrick Reed, Graeme McDowell, Martin Kaymer, Sam Horsfield, Richard Bland, Shaun Norris, Laurie Canter, Wade Ormsby, Bernd Weisburger, Charl Schwartzel and Branden Grace also having issued appeals.
Garcia, Schwartzel, Grace and Otaegui withdrew their appeals just before the hearings took place.
It remains to be seen if the likes of Poulter and Westwood will appeal against the verdict or give up their membership of the DP World Tour, thereby ending their involvement in the Ryder Cup.
Speaking in his press conference ahead of the Masters, Rory McIlroy – who has been vocal in his criticism of LIV Golf players and its chief executive Greg Norman – said he could not comment widely until the verdict was officially announced, but added: “If that is the outcome, then that certainly changes the dynamic of everything.”