Four LIV players officially resign from European tour

LIV Golf photo by Charles Laberge via AP / Sergio Garcia hits a shot from the 10th tee at Sentosa Golf Club during the second round of the LIV Golf League's Singapore tournament last Saturday.

English players Richard Bland, Ian Poulter and Lee Westwood and Spain's Sergio Garcia have resigned from the DP World Tour instead of facing fines of 100,000 pounds ($125,000) for playing LIV Golf League tournaments without permission from the Europe-based circuit.

All four were among those who played the inaugural LIV event outside London last June and violated the conflicting tournament regulation policy. In a statement released Wednesday, the DP World Tour thanked the four players for their contributions — particularly Garcia, Poulter and Westwood for their roles in Europe's dominance of the Ryder Cup against the United States.

"Their resignations, however, along with the sanctions imposed upon them, are a consequence of their own choices," the tour said.

The decision stems from last month's ruling by Sport Resolutions that a number of players committed serious breaches of the DP World Tour's code of behavior by playing last year in events for LIV, which is backed by Saudi Arabia's sovereign wealth fund. The ruling allowed the tour to impose fines of 100,000 pounds. Instead of paying the fine, the four players chose to resign.

That likely is the end of Garcia's record run through the Ryder Cup, which dates to 1999 when he was 19. The 43-year-old Spaniard holds the Ryder Cup record for most matches won (25) and most points contributed (28 1/2) in nine appearances.

Poulter, 47, is best known for his "Postman" performance at Medinah (Illinois) Country Club in 2012, when he made five straight birdies in a fourballs match with Rory McIlroy, the spark that delivered Europe to the greatest comeback by a visiting team.

Westwood, 50, spent three decades on the European circuit and remained devoted in the wake of so many stars joining the PGA Tour. He has 25 wins on the circuit, won its points title three times and reached No. 1 in the Official World Golf Ranking toward the end of 2010. His 11 appearances in the Ryder Cup are the most by a European.

Westwood told The Daily Telegraph it was "a sad day."

"I could not really see any other option with all the punishments hanging over me," Westwood said, adding that he doesn't agree with the direction DP World Tour CEO Keith Pelley and the tour board "and I want to move on."

Bland, 50, has one victory on the European circuit.

Other players, including two-time major winner Martin Kaymer of Germany, Northern Ireland's Graeme McDowell and Austria's Bernd Wiesberger, would need to pay the fine if they want to stay on tour. McDowell has played only the BMW PGA Championship since joining LIV, and Wiesberger played the Middle East swing while the tour sanctions remained under appeal.

The tour said an update on other sanctioned players would be provided Thursday. This week's tournament is the Italian Open at Marco Simone Golf & Country Club near Rome, the course that will host the Ryder Cup later this year.