Breakaway league sets golfers on collision course with DP World Tour


Show caption Ian Poulter and Sergio García are among the players likely to apply for release to play at Centurion Club. Photograph: Mike Segar/Reuters Golf Breakaway league sets golfers on collision course with DP World Tour Host of stars likely to apply for release to play at Centurion

Phil Mickelson could return at event in Hertfordshire Ewan Murray @mrewanmurray Wed 27 Apr 2022 18.12 BST Share on Facebook

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Members of the DP World Tour who play in the $25m (£19.9m Saudi Arabian-backed event in Hertfordshire in June are likely to face penalties amid a growing sense permission will not be granted to those looking to tee up at the Centurion Club.

DP World – formerly European – Tour players must request a release to participate in the LIV Golf Invitational, which runs from 9 to 11 June. This marks the first independent event fronted by Greg Norman, whose disruption plan for golf – backed by Saudi’s Public Investment Fund – has met with stern resistance from the sport’s biggest tours.

Players were released by the DP World Tour for the Saudi International this year but that tournament carried world-ranking value and was endorsed by the Asian Tour. Neither applies to the LIV Golf Invitational. The DP World Tour is now set to bite back.

Lee Westwood, Ian Poulter, Sergio García, Richard Bland, Graeme McDowell, Louis Oosthuizen and Branden Grace are among those likely to apply for the release before the DP World Tour’s deadline of 10 May.

Every indication from their Wentworth headquarters is that players will not be cleared to play at Centurion. That will leave those individuals with a decision to make: take their place in the field anyway or remove their names from the equation.

If golfers opt for the former, and barring an unforeseen U-turn, they would face punishment. Nobody at the DP World Tour is willing to speculate on what that may be leaving players themselves in the midst of a high-stakes guessing game.

Keith Pelley, chief executive of the DP World Tour, again urged members last week to consider the potential long-term ramifications – on both sporting and ethical grounds – of siding with the Saudis.

The PGA Tour’s position on its members – including Phil Mickelson, Robert Garrigus, Bubba Watson and Harold Varner – who want to play at Centurion is slightly different. Unlike the DP World Tour, the PGA Tour must respond to players who have requested a release by 10 May. Insiders believe the PGA Tour may be more strict for LIV competitions in North America than one due to place in the UK.

Mickelson remains absent from professional golf after controversial comments relating to Saudi Arabia’s record on human rights came to light and it remains unclear whether he will re-emerge to defend the US PGA Championship next month.