In an escalating war of words, European Tour CEO Keith Pelley hit back on Friday at 16 players who threatened legal action if they remained punished for ignoring tour regulations by participating in the events of golf LIV funded by Saudi Arabia.
The Daily Telegraph has obtained a copy of the letter to the DP World Tour – the trading name of the European tour – in which the players demanded that their fines be waived and that they be allowed to play at the Scottish Open the week next.
The European tour has fined players £100,000 for taking part in the inaugural LIV Golf event. The event took place outside London, the same week as a European Tour event in Sweden, and the players had no required releases under the tour’s regulations.
It was rare for a tour manager to go public with his review. Pelley said the letter contained “too many inaccuracies for it to go unchallenged”.
Pelley said players knew that before choosing to join the Rebel League there would be consequences and many of them accepted that. He said it was not believable that the players are now surprised by the punishment.
“The letter affirms that these players ‘care deeply’ about the DP World Tour,” Pelley said in his statement. “An analysis of past attendance statistics on our tour in recent years from several of the major named cast members suggests otherwise.”
He said one player, whom Pelley did not name, has only played six Rolex Series events in the past five years. These are designated as elite events on the European Tour with the biggest funds and points.
“I wish a lot of them had been as eager to play on our tour as they seem to be now, based on the fact that they either resigned from their PGA Tour memberships or, s ‘they are still members, have been suspended indefinitely,’ he said.
He also said the players would compete in Oregon for $25 million in prize money the same week the Irish Open had a new title sponsor. Pelley said one of the players at the LIV Golf event had previously signed a commitment to play at the Irish Open.
The Scottish Open is the first time a tournament has been co-sanctioned by the PGA Tour and the European Tour, offering an $8 million purse with the field of 156 players split evenly between the two tours. The Barbasol Championship next week in Kentucky allows 50 players for the European tour.
The Telegraph said the 16 players who signed the letter included Lee Westwood, Ian Poulter and Sergio Garcia.
He quoted the letter saying: “Instead of devoting our time, energy, financial resources and focusing on appeals, injunctions and lawsuits, we implore you, the guardians of the DP World Tour, to reconsider your recent penalties and penalties, and instead focus our energies on a path forward that is better for DP World Tour members and the game of golf.”
The letter also criticized a 13-year joint venture with the PGA Tour that was announced this week, which allows the top 10 European Tour players to get PGA Tour cards. He accused Europe of being ready to be the “second fiddle” to the US tour.
It was the latest example of growing angst among the PGA Tour, the European Tour and the LIV Golf group led by Greg Norman.
Earlier this week, Fred Couples said golf.com about Phil Mickelson, “I don’t think I’ll talk to him again, why? I’m not in the same boat as him anymore, and I’ll probably never play golf with him again. I’m not saying that to be mean. We’re just in different orbits.
Mickelson was head scout for Norman and LIV Golf. His comments derogatory the Saudis, the rebel league and the PGA Tour ended up slowing down the process of signing players from LIV Golf.
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