IAN POULTER has struck a massive blow for golf’s money-chasing rebels, by getting his European ban overturned.
Poulter is now free to play in this week’s Scottish Open, leaving DP World Tour bosses wondering how they can prevent more star players joining the £200million LIV Golf series.
Ian Poulter is free to compete in the Scottish Open this week after his ban was overturned
Poulter, 46, decided to take legal action after the Tour fined him – and 16 other players – £100,000 each for signing up to the Saudi-Arabia-backed LIV circuit, and banned them from three tournaments, starting with the Scottish Open.
The Ryder Cup hero got his management company to lodge an appeal with Sport Resolutions, an internationally-recognised independent body set up to try to avoid disputes being dragged through the courts.
They ruled that Poulter and two other rebels who wanted to play in Scotland – Adrian Oategui of Spain and South Africa’s Justin Harding – should be allowed to compete.
They were only granted a temporary reprieve, pending a full hearing into their complaints by a Sports Resolutions appeals panel. But that is still a huge victory for Poulter.
And even though they did not enter the Scottish Open, it will be welcomed by other high-profile rebels, including Ryder Cup team-mates Sergio Garcia and Lee Westwood.
American rebels such as Major champions Dustin Johnsdon, Bryson DeChambeau and Patrick Reed will now feel the indefinite banks slapped on them by the PGA Tour could also be thrown out.
While the case was being heard, Poulter argued the punishment handed out to him was “offensive” given his commitment to European golf over almost a quarter of a century.
He commented: “I’ve taken this action by myself, because I want to play this week.
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“If other people want to come in on the back of that, then fine. But I’m fighting for my right to play golf.
“I feel disappointed and offended that I’ve been suspended from playing golf on a Tour that I’ve played for 24 years. I’ve played 389 tournaments on the European Tour.
“I’ve played seven Ryder Cups, and been a vice-captain, and I’ve always played at least 100 per cent over my minimum requirement in Europe every single year.
“And I’ve never given up my membership once, even when I went to play the PGA Tour in 2004. My commitment to the European Tour has been there since day one, and it’s still there today.
“I’m proud of playing over here so often, when it was to the detriment of world ranking points and FedExCup points I could have earned playing more in America.”
Keith Pelley, the Tour’s chief executive, commented: “We are disappointed by the outcome of today’s hearing, but will abide by the decision.
“It is important to remember, however, this is only a stay of the sanctions imposed, pending the hearing of the players’ appeal as to whether those sanctions were appropriate.”
Poulter said signing up for the £200million LIV Golf series was a “no-brainer”.
He believes he and fellow rebels Garcia, Westwood and the rest should never have been refused permission to play on the Saudi-backed circuit.
Poulter added: “I’ve never been refused a waiver to play somewhere else before this – and why should I when I always fulfil more than my minimum obligation to the Tour.
“I’ve been allowed to play in Japan, Korea, Australasia – all over the world in fact, without any sanctions. I even missed Wentworth one year to play Colonial. That was OK. But this isn’t?
“We didn’t know what the consequences of playing for LIV would be. 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?”
Fellow LIV rebel Graeme McDowell revealed he has received vicious hate mail since he took the Saudi cash.
He commented: “It’s not nice when you can’t turn on your Twitter or Instagram accounts without seeing people say I hope you die.”