The latest move in golf’s epic power struggle is likely to see those rebels who have committed to the LIV Series prevented from playing in the Scottish Open. Although still to be completely finalised, the sanction is among those expected to be revealed by the DP World, formerly European, Tour in the coming days.
The Scottish Open, worth $8m (£6.5m) in prize money, ordinarily forms a key part of Open buildup for scores of players and is a marquee event on the DP World Tour. Entries close on Thursday.
No sooner were shots hit at Hemel Hempstead’s Centurion Club on 9 June as the Saudi Arabian-backed LIV staged its first $25m event, than the PGA Tour’s commissioner, Jay Monahan, announced immediate and indefinite bans for those participating. Phil Mickelson and Dustin Johnson are included in that group. Bryson DeChambeau will be hit with a similar penalty when he appears in LIV’s next tournament, which starts on 30 June in Portland, Oregon.
The DP World Tour has yet to lay out its position, with the organisation keen to stress there are differences between their circumstances and those of the PGA Tour. One is the responsibility it has to DP World as the principal sponsor. The DP World Tour also has an element of Ryder Cup governance via the European team which does not apply to the PGA Tour. It remains feasible that the biennial event could bear the brunt of punishments for DP World Tour players who have defected to LIV. These all remain under deep discussion.
The Scottish Open, which takes place at North Berwick’s Renaissance Club from 7 July, has been a source of widespread intrigue within golf circles given it has co-sanction status with the PGA Tour. Participants can earn ranking points on both the DP World Tour’s Race to Dubai order of merit and the PGA Tour’s season-long FedEx Cup series.
Sources have now told the Observer that – barring unforeseen and late changes to policy – LIV participants will be told they are not welcome in East Lothian. The DP World Tour offered no comment on their Scottish Open position when approached.
The DP World Tour has a strategic alliance with the PGA Tour. The latter is known to have been influential in the recent arrival of Genesis as the Scottish Open’s title sponsor. Genesis has a long-time association the PGA Tour, including sponsorship of an event in California.
Any concern that the Scottish Open field may be meaningfully and negatively impacted by the absence of renegade golfers seems unfounded given the cast list already announced. Scottie Scheffler, who is the world No 1, Jon Rahm, Collin Morikawa, Justin Thomas, Jordan Spieth, Xander Schauffele, Brooks Koepka and Justin Rose have already committed to Scotland in the week preceding the 150th Open at St Andrews.
At a board meeting on Tuesday, the PGA Tour will inevitably discuss increased involvement with the DP World Tour as both look to see off the LIV threat. In a letter sent to more than 400 members last week, the DP World Tour’s chief executive, Keith Pelley, promised to fully outline his organisation’s stance on all matters LIV this Thursday.
“As a result of this timeline, the field for next week’s BMW International Open will not be affected, but please be aware that entry lists and fields for tournaments thereafter might well be,” Pelley had warned. He cited “sanctions” towards members who have “breached our regulations”.
Pelley added: “As I reminded all members in my message dated 19 April 2022, our conflicting-event protocol was specifically designed in the best interests of your Tour, ensuring our sponsors, promoters and broadcast partners continue to get a strong return on their investments, thereby safeguarding vital revenue streams which ultimately provide your prize funds and playing opportunities.
“During discussions in Sweden last week, and through additional private correspondence, some members asked me why we simply do not follow what the PGA Tour have done and immediately suspend these players. While I understand the frustration, I remind you all that although we work closely with the PGA Tour, we are different organisations and our rules and regulations are therefore different too.
“From many of your messages and my conversations, I know that many of you share the same viewpoint that Jay Monahan expressed in his note to PGA Tour members, namely that the players who have chosen this route have disrespected the vast majority of the members of this Tour.”
Pelley and Monahan may have raised a smile at the scoring status after 36 holes of the US Open. No LIV player who made the cut had broken par. Sergio García, Branden Grace, Louis Oosthuizen and Mickelson, who played at Centurion, failed to survive for the weekend. The attraction of 54 holes and no cut is becoming increasingly apparent.