The DP World Tour has won its legal battle against a group of 12 LIV Golf players and will be able to sanction them for playing in conflicting events without permission, according to reports.
A three-member arbitration panel heard five days of arguments from lawyers on behalf of the players and those representing the DP World Tour in February in an attempt to clarify the playing status of the former on the latter.
The case arose when players requested ‘conflicting event’ releases from the DP World Tour in order to play the inaugural LIV Golf event in Hemel Hempstead in June last year.
Those requests were denied but the players competed at Centurion Club regardless and were fined UK£100,000 (US$124,800) and suspended from the Scottish Open.
Initially Ian Poulter, Adrian Otaegui and Justin Harding appealed against the decision and the punishments were stayed pending a substantive appeal, allowing the players to compete in DP World Tour events throughout, with Otaegui winning the Andalucia Masters in October.
The number of appellants then grew to 16, but Sergio Garcia, Charl Schwartzel, Branden Grace and Otaegui withdrew from the case, which was heard behind closed doors by Sports Resolutions UK.
According to a report published in The Times on 4th April, the panel has reached a verdict and found in favour of the DP World Tour, with an official announcement potentially being made during the first round of the Masters on 6th April.
A spokesperson for the DP World Tour told the PA news agency: “Out of respect for the confidentiality of the process conducted by Sport Resolutions, we will make no comment on any aspect of the arbitration until the decision is formally announced.”
While the PGA Tour is involved in a separate anti-trust lawsuit with LIV Golf and a handful of its players who were suspended for playing on the Saudi-backed circuit, DP World Tour officials had stressed the ‘narrow parameters’ of the arbitration case.
In a briefing with reporters at the Dubai Desert Classic, DP World Tour director of communications Scott Crockett said: “The hearing centres solely on our conflicting event release regulation and our ability to enforce it.
“Every member signs up to our regulations when they pay their membership fees each year. There are precedents where they have not been granted in the past.”
It remains to be seen if the likes of Lee Westwood and Ian Poulter will appeal against the verdict or give up their membership of the DP World Tour.
LIV Golf declined to comment when contacted by the PA news agency.