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DP World Tour may not be able to ban those who play LIV Golf series

DP World Tour players who take part in the first event of the LIV Golf Invitational Series are "likely to be fined rather than banned," according to Rick Broadbent of the LONDON TIMES. The DP World Tour is "not expected to issue releases” for members to play at next month’s event at St Albans. However, there is a "growing feeling that they may be legally unable to suspend those who choose to play anyway.” That has “long been the word from the Saudi camp.” It is also understood that LIV Golf, “bankrolled by Saudi’s sovereign wealth fund, the PIF, will pay the players’ fines.” As the deadline to apply for releases from the DP World Tour passes, a source said that the "majority of players asking to play at Centurion were aged between 42 to 50.” The PGA Tour is “expected to wait until the LIV Invitational Series reaches US before it refuses to issue releases.” Meanwhile, the PGA Tour and DP World Tour are planning to "strengthen their 2020 'strategic alliance' in an attempt to fend off the Saudi threat.” This will go “beyond co-sanctioning events” and provide a “clear pathway to the PGA Tour by playing in Europe" (LONDON TIMES, 5/9). GOLF DIGEST’s John Huggan noted the DP World Tour’s constitution “does not contain any provision for the banning of players who compete in conflicting events” (GOLFDIGEST.com, 5/8).

Sergio Garcia was recently overheard on the course expressing that he was ready to move on from the PGA TourMITCH STRINGER/USA TODAY SPORTS

SOUNDING OFF: GOLFWEEK’s Eamon Lynch wrote under header, "Finally, a reason to root for the Saudis -- they’ll take Sergio Garcia!" During last Thursday’s first round of the Wells Fargo Championship, Garcia "snapped" after being informed by a PGA Tour rules official that he had “exhausted the time allotted to find his ball in a hazard." Garcia: “I can’t wait to leave this tour. I can’t wait to get out of here. ... A couple of more weeks, I don’t have to deal with you anymore.” Garcia “checks all of the traits” common among players “associated with the Saudi bid to hijack professional golf: best days are in the rearview, has accomplished all that seems likely in major championships, not playing well enough consistently to benefit from increased purses on the PGA Tour, not sufficiently well-liked to reap fan engagement bonuses, endowed with a stout sense of entitlement, and consumed with petty grievances (mostly imaginary).” Garcia shares “another attribute with his peers” who also are “heavy petting with the bonesaw enthusiasts: their absence from the PGA or DP World tours would scarcely be noticed.” That is the “disconnect at the heart of the Saudi seduction” (GOLFWEEK.com, 5/7).

MORE THAN CHECKS: GOLF.com's weekly roundtable looked at the players that are expected to join the LIV Golf series. Senior editor Sean Zak noted players like Lee Westwood, Richard Bland and even Garcia are "exactly who we’ve been assuming will take part in these events.” The youngest and best players have “all committed to the PGA Tour." Older players outside the top 10 in the world “seem to be considering LIV Golf." Zak: "So this checks out completely. ... What remains to be seen is how interesting it will be for fans. Big purses alone do not guarantee interesting golf.” Exec editor Alan Bastable noted an "archetype for LIV 'A-listers' is now coming to the fore: past-their primers who (1) are no longer regularly competitive in the majors, (2) can’t cash in on PIP money or the Tour’s other bonus structures and (3) as Westwood demonstrated last week, don’t appear fazed by the weighty moral and ethical questions before them.” Bastable: "Question is, as these guys start to cash monster checks, how many other notables -- especially those struggling to find their games -- will continue to be content watching from the sidelines as Sergio and Co. fill up their Brink’s trucks” (GOLF.com, 5/8).

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