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In an escalating war of words, European tour CEO Keith Pelley responded Friday to 16 players who have threatened legal action if they continue to be punished for flouting tour regulations by playing in LIV-funded golf events. by Saudi Arabia.
The Daily Telegraph obtained a copy of the letter to the DP World Tour, the trading name for the European tour, in which the players demanded that their fines be lifted and they be allowed to play at the Scottish Open next week.
The European circuit fined players who competed in LIV Golf’s inaugural event £100,000. The event was on the outskirts of London, the same week as a European tour event in Sweden, and the players did not have the required permits under tour regulations.
It was rare for a touring executive to go public with his criticism. Pelley said the letter contained “too many inaccuracies that it cannot remain unanswered.”
FRED COUPLES SLAMS PHIL MICKELSON FOR JOINING LIV GOLF: ‘I DON’T THINK I’LL TALK TO HIM AGAIN’
Pelley said the players knew before they chose to join the rogue league that there would be consequences, and many of them accepted it. He said that it was not believable that the players were now surprised by the punishment.
“The letter states that these players ‘care deeply’ about the DP World Tour,” Pelley said in his statement. “An analysis of past participation statistics on our tour in recent years for several of the top named players suggests otherwise.”
He said one player, whom Pelley did not name, has played just six Rolex Series events in the past five years. Those are designated as elite events on the European tour with the highest bankroll and points.
“I wish a lot of them had been as eager to play on our tour then as they seem to be now, based on the fact that they gave up their PGA Tour membership or, if they’re still members, were suspended indefinitely.” ,” he said.
He also said players will compete in Oregon for $25 million in prize money the same week the Irish Open gets a new title sponsor. Pelley said that one of the players at the LIV Golf event previously signed a commitment to play the Irish Open.
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The Scottish Open marks the first time a tournament has been jointly sanctioned by the PGA Tour and the European tour, offering an $8 million purse with the 156-man field split equally between both tours. Next week’s Barbasol Championship in Kentucky allows 50 players from the European circuit to participate.
The Telegraph said the 16 players who signed the letter included Lee Westwood, Ian Poulter and Sergio Garcia.
He quoted the letter as saying: “Rather than waste our time, energy, financial resources and focus on appeals, injunctions and lawsuits, we implore you, the custodians of the DP World Tour, to reconsider your recent sanctions and penalties, and, in instead, focus our energies on forging a way forward that is better for members of the DP World Tour 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 players on the European Tour to earn PGA Tour cards. He accused Europe of being willing to be “second fiddle” to the US tour.
It was the latest example of the growing angst between the PGA Tour, the European tour and the LIV Golf group led by Greg Norman.
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Earlier this week, Fred Couples told golf.com about Phil Mickelson: “I don’t think I’ll ever talk to him again. What for? I’m not in the same boat as him anymore and I’ll probably never play again.” . golf with him again. I don’t say that to be mean. We’re just in different orbits.”
Mickelson was head of recruiting for Norman and LIV Golf. His comments disparaging the Saudis, the rogue league and the PGA Tour ended up slowing down LIV Golf’s player signing process.