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Law

LIV Golf Handed Legal Setback in Europe

  • A three-person arbitration panel ruled that the DP World Tour has authority to suspend, fine LIV Golf players.
  • Decision is expected to be made public on Thursday as the first round of the Masters begins.
LIV
John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports

A European arbitration council dealt the DP World Tour a victory in its legal fight with LIV Golf. 

The three-person Sports Resolutions panel ruled DP World Tour has the authority to fine and suspend players who compete in conflicting LIV Golf events, a source with knowledge of the decision confirmed to Front Office Sports on Tuesday. 

The ruling, as expected, was released Thursday as 18 LIV Golf players and other top players from around the world began play in the first round of the Masters. 

LIV Golf players Ian Poulter, Adrian Otaegui, and Justin Harding were fined 100,0000 pounds (about $125,000) each and suspended after the trio were denied permission to play in LIV’s inaugural event at London’s Centurion Club last June. 

The panel ruled that the DP World Tour was within its rights to impose the fine what it described as a “serious breach” of DP World Tour rules on conflicting events.

“It was explained that the level of £100,000 had been chosen as it represented a sum just lower than the prize money available to the last-placed participant in the LIV event with which the DPWT event in question conflicted, although that does not seem to us to be a necessary yardstick,” the panel wrote. ” “It is appropriate for the financial sanction to be set at a dissuasive level.”

Those sanctions were put on hold after Poulter, Otaegui, Harding, and 10 other LIV golfers challenged the DP World Tour’s ruling that led to a five-day hearing in London earlier this year. The panel reinstated each fine, which has to be paid within 30 days.

The DP World Tour had been among the few ways LIV Golf players could earn points toward majors, as LIV events still don’t receive Official World Golf Ranking points. 

While the decision has no direct impact on the ongoing antitrust case between LIV and the PGA Tour, many of the arguments have been used by LIV lawyers. 

The next hearing in that case is scheduled for Friday.

Editor’s note: This story was updated on April 6 after the panel released its final findings.

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