Ian Poulter admitted that, despite being known as Mr Ryder Cup, he had instructed his lawyers to try to overturn the European circuit’s ban for this week’s Scottish Open, saying he felt “offended” considering his long service and his contributions in the blue and gold .
Telegraph Sport revealed exclusively on Sunday that players on the Saudi rebel circuit were seeking an injunction against the DP World Tour to reinstate them in the Renaissance Club field for the $8 million [£6.61 million] event that starts on Thursday.
Poulter insisted he was acting “independently”, but it is known that he was not the only pro signed with the LIV Golf Series seeking a last-minute reprieve.
The case was first heard in the International Dispute Resolution Center by Sports Resolutions, the non-profit, independent UK body that settles disputes quickly without the necessity to go to the High Court.
Speed was obviously of the essence with the 156-man field already gathered at the North Berwick links. Both sides had to agree to the decision being binding.
Poulter, playing at the JP McManus Pro-Am in Co Limerick, was waiting for his legal team to advise of the verdict when he came off the Adare Manor layout on Monday night. Unlike Ryder Cup team-mate Graeme McDowell, who revealed earlier that he had not been willing to put his home circuit in the dock, Poulter declared that he was “fighting for my right to play golf”.
Pouilter, 46, was a LIV member of the “Sour 16” – as they have since been coined – who put their names to a collective sent to Wentworth HQ last week demanding the sanctions be lifted by last Friday or else they would take legal action .
And when the deadline came and passed – with Tour chief executive Keith Pelley calling the punishments “fair” and “proportionate” at the same time as ridiculing the Sour 16’s claim that they “cared deeply for the Tour” – Poulter decided to carry through on the warning.
“I feel disappointed, I feel offended, that I’m suspended from playing on a tour I’ve been a member of for nearly a quarter of a century,” he said. “My commitment to my European Tour card was always to continue and play more events. But I’ve been told I can’t so I’m waiting to hear a panel’s review to see if I can go and play [in Scotland]. Hopefully, we can get it lifted.”
Poulter maintains he has no regrets in joining a series that also features the likes of Lee Westwood, Sergio Garcia, Martin Kaymer, Paul Casey and US Ryder Cup players such as Dustin Johnson, Bryson DeChambeau, Patrick Reed, Brooks Koepka and Phil Mickelson. It is believed Poulter received a $30m [£24.78m] Signing-on fee and is adamant he has no regrets, regardless of accusations that he has been disloyal to his Tour and tainted his Ryder Cup legacy.
“I will always be super proud of my commitment to the European Tour,” he said. “I have gone 24 years without ever giving up membership unlike a number of players. I won’t name names, but we know [European] players who’ve taken the opportunity to play the PGA Tour and earn more money. I haven’t done that and always wanted to support the Tour because the Ryder Cup means so much to me.”
It was clear that Poulter and Co would face disciplinary measures when they ignored Pelley’s refusal to grant waivers to play on LIV, thus contravening Tour regulations.
The PGA Tour issued lifetime bans to its mutineers – Poulter included, as a dual member – and as the Scottish Open is the first jointly-sanctioned event between the US circuit and the DP World Tour their route to the Renaissance would obviously be blocked.
Pelley and his board have yet to decide on future sanctions and Ryder Cup eligibility but Poulter evidently feels they have already gone too far.
“We didn’t know what the consequences of playing for LIV would be,” Poulter said. “We knew there would be some form of action, but it was never spelled out to us, and I feel the action they have taken is too severe.
“Look, because of my commitment to golf I’ve missed seeing my kids grow up, take their first steps, and many other family moments. Now I’ve got the chance to spend a lot more time at home, and earn a lot of money – and at 46, the game isn’t getting easier, so why wouldn’t I take it?”