Lee Westwood, who joined three other LIV Golf players in resigning their DP World Tour membership this week, slammed the formerly named European Tour, questioning its sanctions after his move to the Saudi-backed league and calling the DP World Tour a “feeder tour” for the PGA Tour.
“People say I knew exactly what would happen, but nobody told us the extent of the punishments,” Westwood told the Independent in a story published Thursday. “And they continue to do that. The way I view it is that, as a European Tour member, I was allowed to be a member of the PGA Tour without any problem for all those years. Tell me, what is the difference? Just because LIV is funded by the Saudis — a country where my tour used to play and where we were encouraged to play? …
“But now, in my opinion, the European Tour has jumped fully in bed with the PGA Tour, and even though Keith [Pelley, the DP World Tour chief executive] says he hates to hear it, it is now a feeder tour for the PGA Tour. … Sorry, I don’t want to play under that sort of regime.”
Westwood’s comments to the Telegraph — which you can read in full here — come after he and fellow LIV players Sergio Garcia, Ian Poulter and Richard Bland resigned their DP World Tour memberships this week. The moves come about one month after a panel ruled that the DP World Tour could sanction its members for breaches of the tour’s conflicting-tournament regulation committed last June, when LIV started play.
Confirmation of the resignations was made in a statement by the DP World Tour on Wednesday.
“The DP World Tour would like to take this opportunity to thank the four players for the contribution they have made to the Tour,” the statement read, “and in particular to Sergio, Ian and Lee for the significant part they have played in Europe’s success in the Ryder Cup over many years.
“Their resignations, however, along with the sanctions imposed upon them, are a consequence of their own choices. As we have consistently maintained throughout the past year, the Tour has a responsibility to its entire membership to administer the member regulations which each player signs up to. These regulations are in place to protect the collective interests of all DP World Tour members.”
On Thursday, the DP World Tour issued a second statement, saying that 16 of the 17 players it had sanctioned had paid its £100,000 fine — and noting that only Garcia hadn’t. It added that further sanctions, for those golfers who continued to play in LIV events, will be announced next week.
In his interview with the Telegraph, Westwood said that his resignation “wasn’t a straightforward decision and not one I have taken lightly at all.” Since his move to LIV, he has also defended the tour that is now playing its second season, and has questioned the direction of the DP World Tour, which has entered into a “strategic alliance” with the PGA Tour.
The resignations also mean that Westwood, Garcia, Poulter and Bland will not be eligible to participate in the Ryder Cup, either as a player or a captain. Notably, Westwood has played in 11 Ryder Cups, Garcia 10 and Poulter seven, and Garcia is the all-time leader in matches won.
“I never would have believed it had ended like this and there has to be a bit of sadness, of course,” Westwood told the Telegraph.
Also on Thursday, after his play during the first round of the PGA Tour’s Wells Fargo Championship, Rory McIlroy four times called the resignations “a shame.” Over the past year, the Northern Irishman has been outspoken against LIV.
“Yeah, I mean, I think it’s a shame, right?” he said. “I think it’s a shame that you’ve got the highest points scorer ever in the Ryder Cup and two guys that when they look back on their career, that’s probably going to be at least a big chunk of their legacy is the roles that they have played in the Ryder Cup for Europe. For those three guys to not captain Europe one day, it’s a shame. But as the DP World Tour said in their statement, at the end of the day, that was their choice and they knew that these were potentially going to be the consequences of those choices and of those actions and here we are.
“Yeah, it’s certainly a shame.”