An arbitration hearing that will determine the future of players involved in the breakaway LIV Golf tour began in London on Monday.
A three-member panel will hear five days of arguments from lawyers for a group of 13 LIV Golf players and those representing the DP World Tour in an attempt to clarify whether the LIV golfers can continue to play on the European circuit without sanction.
The case arose when players requested “conflicting event” releases from the DP World Tour in order to play the inaugural LIV Golf event in Hemel Hempstead, north London, last June.
Those requests were denied but the players competed at Centurion Club regardless and were fined £100,000 ($120,000) and suspended from the Scottish Open.
Initially Ian Poulter, Adrian Otaegui and Justin Harding appealed against the decision and the punishments were stayed pending a substantive appeal, allowing the players to compete in DP World Tour events, with Otaegui winning the Andalucia Masters in October.
The case is being heard behind closed doors by independent arbitrator, Sports Resolutions UK, a process which avoids a formal court case.
While the PGA Tour is involved in a separate anti-trust lawsuit with LIV Golf and a handful of its players who were suspended for playing on the Saudi-funded circuit, DP World Tour officials have stressed the “narrow parameters” of the arbitration case which centres solely on “conflicting event release regulation” and their ability to enforce it.
That leaves the initial three players who challenged the ruling last June — Poulter, Otaegui and Harding — as well as Lee Westwood, Sam Horsfield, Richard Bland, Shaun Norris, Laurie Canter, Wade Ormsby, Patrick Reed, Bernd Wiesberger, Graeme McDowell and Martin Kaymer.
The verdict will not be known until several weeks after the hearing.
The first LIV Golf Invitational Series event started in June 2022, at the Centurion Club near London, England.