LIV Golf rebels handed February date for decision over DP World Tour future

D-day for members of the DP World Tour, formerly the European Tour, who are seeking clearance to continue to play in that environment despite joining LIV Golf, will arrive in early February.

Last month an arbitration judge placed a pause on sanctions – a suspension plus £100,000 fine – against golfers including the Ryder Cup stars Ian Poulter, Lee Westwood, Sergio García and Graeme McDowell who featured on the LIV platform without being cleared to do so by the DP World Tour. Poulter, Justin Harding and Adrián Otaegui had fronted that legal challenge.

Eighteen LIV recruits are expected to tee up when the DP World Tour stages its marquee event, the PGA Championship, at Wentworth next week. In demonstrating how volatile this scenario is, none of the 18 will play in the pre-tournament pro-am or appear on television’s featured groups. The latest blow in the battle between LIV and golf’s established tours was struck on Tuesday, with LIV announcing the signing of the Open champion, Cameron Smith.

The Guardian has now learned the full hearing, presided over by Sport Resolutions UK, will take place in front of a panel over five days in little over five months’ time. Until that point LIV rebels can continue participate in DP World Tour events where eligible, collect Ryder Cup qualification points and feature on the order of merit. This opens the door for the involvement of the players in question in the Race to Dubai finale in November plus the Middle East swing in January 2023.

The timeframe is in stark contrast to on the opposite side of the Atlantic, where a legal objection to PGA Tour bans by a handful of LIV members will not be heard until the autumn of next year at the earliest.

On the day when Ryder Cup Europe confirmed the captain, Luke Donald, will have six wildcard picks for the biennial event in Rome next September, the DP World Tour’s chief executive, Keith Pelley, sent an upbeat correspondence to members. DP World Tour prize funds are guaranteed to increase to record levels for each of the next five years, with major schedule changes in the pipeline for 2024.

Donald will have three automatic qualifiers from each of the European and world points lists. Qualification begins at Wentworth and concludes three weeks before Europe seek to win back the trophy from the United States. A modification to the points system, Donald believes, provides increased opportunity for players competing predominantly on the DP World Tour than was previously the case.

“The six picks give me flexibility to ensure we have the strongest lineup at Marco Simone in terms of in-form players, players with Ryder Cup experience, and potential pairings,” said Donald. “We have also moved the end of the qualification period forward to give the players the right amount of preparation time once they have made the team.”