The future of the global golf landscape will take a turn this week as 13 players on the LIV circuit go up against the DP World Tour in a much-anticipated court hearing.
After months of build-up, the 13 LIV defectors in question (down from 16) will face European Tour chief executive Keith Pelley and his legal team for the right to play in both series. LIV rebels played in the Saudi-funded competition last year despite not being granted releases for the new, lucrative contest, which resulted in fines and suspensions from DP World Tour events before those punishments were put on hold.
The arbitration hearing will run from Monday (Feb. 6) until Friday (Feb. 10), though appelant Lee Westwood told the Telegraph he's been informed it may be "two to three weeks" before a decision is made. Mirror Sport has taken a look at some of the possible repercussions of the case depending on its outcome, which could have a big say on the future of LIV Golf, the DP World Tour, the PGA and beyond.
Do you think the LIV Golf rebels should be eligible for all DP World Tour events as well? Let us know in the comments section.
LIV suspensions incoming?
Although the DP World Tour's defence isn't solely about its legislative ability to ban players from its competitions, suspensions from certain competitions on its circuit do play a part in proceedings. The LIV appellants defence relies on the premise that players on the DP World Tour have in the past been given reprieves to play in competitions that clash with its calendar, but the latter has also reserved the right to sanction those who disobey in the past.
In the event that the panel rules in favour of the DP World Tour, it could give the competition power to more freely impose suspensions and fines on those wish to play both competitions without being released. Given last year's punishment for those who played at the inaugural LIV event at the Centurion Club was a two-tournament ban from the DP World Tour, it could effectively add up to an annual ban from the rest of this year's European Tour.
More rebels 'leaving'?
Should the 13 complaints succeed in their case, it would represent likely the most significant moment in LIV's race for relevance to date. Denying the DP World Tour the freedom it wants to sanction and suspend defectors could then, in turn, lead to a greater number of current DP World Tour stars heading for the riches on offer with LIV.
If players were allowed to customise their own calendars by juggling commitments in both competitions, it would likely lead to more tensions such as those witnessed between Rory McIlroy and Patrick Reed of late. It could also see LIV boost its membership in the years to come, having opened up for business with a fairly exclusive 48-player field in 2022 and 2023.
Ryder Cup repercussions
One of the larger points up for discussion in the DP World Tour case is in regards to how it will impact the four majors, as well as the Ryder Cup. DP World Tour events are one of the primary routes for attaining qualifying points for the those competitions, which is of growing importance as the Ryder Cup heads to Italy later this year.
Should the DP World Tour lose in the arbitration hearing, it could mean former PGA stars like Dustin Johnson and Cameron Smith could join the DP World Tour ranks as a means to an end. Reed is one such talent who has made the jump to Europe since leaving the PGA's borders, and it's possible more are en route if it's deemed 'safe territory' for the rebels.
More specifically in regards to the Ryder Cup, an arbitration defeat for the DP World Tour would simplify the system in terms of qualifying for a spot on the rosters. In turn, that may see captain Luke Donald saddled with some players he wouldn't necessarily have liked to see along with his six picks.
Who are the 13 LIV appellants?
Ian Poulter, Lee Westwood, Patrick Reed, Bernd Wiesberger, Graeme McDowell, Martin Kaymer, Sam Horsfield, Richard Bland, Shaun Norris, Laurie Canter, Wade Ormsby, Adrian Otaegui and Justin Harding.