Saudi rebel circuit to reimburse players for £100,000 fines given out by DP World Tour

·4 min read
Sergio Garcia of Spain on the 7th tee during the second round of the BMW International Open at Golfclub Munchen Eichenried on June 24, 2022 in Munich, Germany. - GETTY IMAGES
Sergio Garcia of Spain on the 7th tee during the second round of the BMW International Open at Golfclub Munchen Eichenried on June 24, 2022 in Munich, Germany. - GETTY IMAGES

The Saudi rebel circuit will reimburse pros who have been hit with £100,000 fines from the DP World Tour for playing in the first LIV Golf Series event in Hertfordshire two weeks ago.

The DP World Tour  - formerly the European Tour - delivering the sanctions on Friday, banning the likes of Sergio Garcia, Lee Westwood and Ian Poulter from appearing at the Scottish Open - the $8million tournament that is co-sanctioned with the PGA Tour - in two weeks time as well as issuing record financial penalties.

LIV would not comment on Saturday when asked by Telegraph Sport if they intend to stump up the £1.7m - with 17 Tour players receiving the punishment for breaking the membership regulations - but, despite conjecture the golfers would have to foot their own bills, an insider within the breakaway circuit confirmed it will honour assurances made to those who teed it up at the Centurion Club in their opener.

This will relieve the players, regardless of the fact that each of them earned more than £100,000 with the prize money they collected in the £20million, 54-holer in Hemel Hempstead.

One agent of a DP World Tour pro, who appeared at Centurion, told Telegraph Sport that he had yet to hear from LIV and was concerned because the Tour has given a 14-day deadline by which the fine must be paid. “We thought LIV would make a big play of this and come straight out and say, ‘don’t worry, we’ll handle this,” the agent said.

One reason for Greg Norman’s venture not going public with this further backing for the rebels might be that LIV does not wish to enter a game of brinksmanship with Wentworth HQ who have yet to decide how it will react to future LIV events, including the first on US soil, that starts in Portland, Oregon on Thursday.

It is understood that doubling the fine handed out to each player for each LIV event in which they appear was briefly discussed, but this is  “a highly unlikely scenario”. If this extraordinary exponential disciplinary system was introduced it would mean that if a pro such as Garcia played in all eight LIV tournaments this year - which the Spaniard is contracted to do - it would cost him more than £25million and would, of course, force him to resign from his home circuit.

In turn that would result in the Ryder Cup’s all-time leading points-scorer being ineligible to play, or captain, in any more matches.

“There is a lot being rumoured and ‘spun’ but the Tour truly is keeping its options open and playing the long game; not least because of all the legal ramifications,” a source said, a point also back up by the words of Paul McGinley, the Sky Sports analyst who is on the Tour’s board.

“It is a measured response by the Tour in this regard - they have been very careful,” McGinley said. “We are dealing with it one step at a time. We don’t want to jump too far ahead in anything we do. We feel this was a proportionate punishment to what a clear breach of our rules.”

While these were, collectively, by far the biggest fines ever handed out in golf, the PGA Tour went further by issuing indefinite bans to their members as soon as the balls were in the air at Centurion.

It is almost certain that Jay Monahan, the Tour commissioner, will also extend immediate suspensions to Bryson DeChambeau, Brooks Koepka and Patrick Reed when that high-profile trio make their LIV debuts at Pumpkin Ridge.

Keith Pelley, the DP World Tour chief executive, has been inundated by players who have stayed loyal asking why the Europe rebels were not treated with similar stringency, with the Canadian replying “we are different organisations and our rules and regulations are therefore different too”.

McGinley dismissed the theory that the PGA Tour is angry at its partner’s supposedly “soft” response, with LIV players such as Garcia, Laurie Canter, Martin Kaymer and Louis Oosthuizen even allowed to appear at the BMW International that finishes on Sunday in Munich [with Oosthuizen in a tie for 10th].

“There's no doubt we are two separate bodies... even though we have that strategic alliance [signed in November, 2020],” McGinley said. “All I can say is from behind the scenes, it's a very strong and a good relationship - and one that has benefited both Tours.”