Ian Poulter refers to suspension of PGA Tour as power struggle gains dramatic turnaround at LIV Golf Invitational Series

Ian Poulter refers to suspension of PGA Tour as power struggle gains dramatic turnaround at LIV Golf Invitational Series

Ian Poulter intends to appeal his PGA Tour sanction as golf’s fierce power struggle took a dramatic turn at the LIV Golf Invitational Series.

Six-time major champion and lifetime member Phil Mickelson, former world No. 1 Dustin Johnson, and European stars Lee Westwood, Sergio Garcia, and Graeme McDowell were among them, albeit all except Mickelson had resigned from the Tour.

The PGA Tour retaliated by banning the 17 players in the field who were playing within minutes of the first strokes in the first event of the Saudi-funded tournament run.

Poulter had not resigned and repeatedly insisted he had done nothing wrong, despite being denied the required release to play in the controversial circuit, telling reporters after his opening-round 75: “I’ve played a lot of tournaments all around the world, this event is no different. It’s a shame if they view this as something different.

Asked why he had been refused permission on this occasion, Poulter added: “I don’t know why. We can all make assumptions as to why. Competition is probably the real reason. It’s a power struggle and it’s just disappointing.”

“I will appeal for sure. It makes no sense. Having two Tour cards and the ability to play golf all over the world, what’s wrong with that? I believe I’ve been given permission in the past to play in events around the world.”

A legal battle between LIV Golf and the PGA Tour has always looked inevitable, with the players viewing themselves as independent contractors who should be able to play wherever they wish.

“I have spoken to some players, obviously we have spoken to the lawyers,” added McDowell, who said he resigned from the PGA Tour to put himself in a “less litigious situation”.

“We have the LIV legal team which are fantastic. We have our own legal team. Some players have decided that, out of an abundance of caution, they were going to resign and try to stay away from any litigation. “Some guys believe that they shouldn’t be in the situation where they have to resign. They don’t feel like they are doing anything wrong. OK, we haven’t been issued releases. We feel like we should have been issued releases. We’ve done it for the last 20 years, operated all over the world.

“We’re in the UK. You’ve players like myself and Ian Poulter and Lee Westwood, we are in our home markets here. We should be allowed to operate here as professional golfers. But hey, we all know the situation is about something bigger. “It’s competition and it’s not liked. They are having to play the game the way they feel they have to play it, which is playing hard ball. We feel confident that we are well-protected and we are going to just try and do our best.”

Sergio Garcia revealed he had resigned his PGA Tour membership more than a week ago and therefore felt he could not be banned. “I’m not banned because I’m not a member of it,” he said. “He [PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan] received my letter. That’s up to him. It doesn’t bother me. I’m very happy where I am and I’m excited. I thought that today was a great start and that’s what I’m going to focus on.

“Any PGA Tour matters I’m not going to discuss publicly at this time,” he said.

Mickelson revealed he will play all eight LIV Golf events this year and all 10 in 2023, but otherwise refused to comment on Thursday’s events. “Obviously we’re going to have to wait and see what the European Tour does. But I definitely would like to keep my membership there, play at least my minimum [number of events] and get as good a chance as I can to make the Ryder Cup team because I love that event.”

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