Equipped with a favorable court ruling, the European tour has expanded its sanctions against players who competed in LIV Golf or Asian Tour events without permission over eight months.
The tour already has issued fines of 100,000 pounds ($125,000) to 17 players who played in the first two LIV Golf events outside London and Portland, Oregon.
Now it is going after 26 players with fines that range from 12,500 pounds to 100,000 pounds for each tournament they played without a release. The amount depends on what the tour deems caused a negative effect on the European tour.
Players also could face suspensions — up to eight regular European tour events on the schedule — if they pay their fines and remain members. Any suspension would not start until the Porsche European Open in Germany on June 1-4.
Sergio Garcia was the only player who did not pay the initial fine. Garcia, Lee Westwood, Ian Poulter and Richard Bland resigned their memberships last week. Henrik Stenson told Golf Digest he has resigned. Others are likely to follow.
“The tour has taken a stand on the LIV events we all played in and that left me with no decision to make really,” Stenson told Golf Digest. He did not have an exact amount of his fine, saying only it was anywhere between 50,000 pounds ($62,500) and 70,000 pounds ($94,000) for each LIV event he played.
Stenson joined LIV after the British Open, costing him the Ryder Cup captaincy.
“I don’t feel like me spilling the beans and airing my views on all this is actually going to be what I should do,” Stenson said. “Doing that is only going to make the situation even more infected than it already is.”
Two tournaments into LIV’s inaugural season, a group of European tour players sought court relief from tour sanctions and were allowed to play pending an outcome in binding arbitration.
Sport Resolutions ruled in favor of the tour that it had a “legitimate and justifiable interest” in enforcing its regulation with sanctions.
Saudi-backed LIV Golf has pumped $300 million into the Asian Tour, which staged a tournament outside London last year and has two more tournaments scheduled this year for England and Scotland.
The tour said in a statement the sanctions were determined on a case-by-case basis to recognize differences among tournaments and the impact it had on the tour’s broadcast partners and sponsors.
Any suspension would run consecutively, though it would not include major championships. The tour said players who resigned will not be eligible for reinstatement unless they pay their fines, from which point their suspensions would start.
Adrian Otaegui of Spain played in three LIV Golf events last year and made $1,294,500. He later won the Andalucia Masters on the European tour. He currently is No. 9 in the European points for the Ryder Cup — the top three are eligible.
Since the Sport Resolutions decision, LIV Golf has played in Australia and this week is in Oklahoma. The European tour said it would decide on sanctions involving those two tournaments later.