What’s good for the goose is not necessarily good for the gander

Mark McGowan

Rory McIlroy, Lee Westwood and Ian Poulter (Photo by Maddie Meyer/PGA of America/PGA of America via Getty Images)

It came as little surprise when the DP World Tour announced that Ian Poulter, Sergio Garcia, Lee Westwood, and Richard Bland had all resigned their memberships. In the wake of the Sports Resolutions arbitration ruling which upheld the DP World Tour’s right to impose £100,000 sanctions on its members for each event played without release being granted.

And since no releases were or will be granted for LIV Golf events, you’re looking at fines of up to £1.4 million per season, and potentially more if LIV extend their schedule beyond the 14 events currently slated for 2023.

Despite their needless claims to the contrary, the decision to join LIV was most likely a financial one for the four players in question, and the same goes for the 44 others who comprise LIV’s current roster, so that they’d sit back and accept a substantial monetary slap on the wrist like this was never a likely prospect.


Once the ruling was made, resignation was the only outcome, and you can probably expect Graeme McDowell, Patrick Reed, and the other defectors to follow suit.

Resignation also effectively ends any future Ryder Cup involvement for the Europeans, and, though their playing days were most likely in the rear-view mirror, that’s a serious drain on the wealth of experience accumulated through the most successful period ever for teams this side of the pond. Given the potential tension involved, the involvement of those in question may have been unlikely in any case, but, barring Luke Donald taking one hell of a gamble with his captain’s picks, that door appears firmly shut now.

Undoubtedly, for the strategic alliance partners in Ponte Vedra, the ruling and subsequent resignations come as extremely welcome news. But what’s good for the goose is not necessarily good for the gander.

Despite the refutations of both Keith Pelley and Paul McGinley – the latter’s thoughts you can read in a lengthy interview with Irish Golfer in the upcoming edition of our print magazine – from the outside looking in, the DP World Tour is on its knees.

Without doubt, the early season Rolex events in the Middle East were the highlight of the season thus far, and the presence of the LIV cohort not only were a strong addition to the field, but considerably raised the profile of the events. Sure, you can make the argument that the likes of Poulter, Westwood, Reed and co. opting to enter the Abu Dhabi and Dubai events meant that others missed out, but the cold hard facts are that any players missing out quite simply hadn’t done enough to secure their spots.

The ’play better’ response might sound a little harsh, but it’s true. Those DP World Tour members who missed out in the Rolex Events had had numerous chances to improve their standing and, quite simply, hadn’t taken the opportunity. On the whole, professional sport doesn’t reward mediocrity, so rights and privileges must be earned.

Pelley has taken issue with claims that the DP World Tour has become a feeder tour for the PGA Tour, and though he can dispute it all he likes, that’s exactly what it is. Economically, the global pandemic was a major setback for the DP World Tour, much more so than their American counterparts, but the decline had begun long before COVID-19 forced the globe to shut down.

It’s hard to imagine it, but little over a decade ago, certain top players were still opting to ply their trade in Europe and only make occasional forays to the United States. Lee Westwood was the world number one, and 21-year-old Rory McIlroy the hottest prospect in the game, was fresh off his maiden PGA Tour win at Quail Hollow. Both elected not to take up PGA Tour membership in 2011.

McIlroy would of course go on to lead The Masters with nine holes to play, before going on to set the low-scoring record at the the US Open and win by eight. Young, and no doubt heavily under the influence of manager Chubby Chandler who seldom misses an opportunity to take a pop at the PGA Tour, McIlroy would eventually come to regret the decision and re-join the following year, but that one of the current young crop of players could even contemplate choosing Europe over the United States is simply unfathomable.

And now, without the prospect of any of LIV’s big names teeing it up on the DP World Tour, the marketability of even the tour’s biggest events has just decreased. Tournament sponsors want bang for their bucks, and like it or not, Patrick Reed is dynamite. Without Reed’s presence, the Dubai Desert Classic – the only time in 2023 a DP World Tour event has fully captured the golfing world’s attention – would’ve paled in comparison.

So, on paper, this was a win for the good guys, but I wouldn’t go popping champagne corks anytime soon.

The last decade has been a slow bleed for the European Tour, and this is another paper cut.

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