Should LIV Golfers Be Welcomed Back With Open Arms
In his weekly View From The Fairway - Sports Journalist and Golf Writer Derek Clements looks at one of the latest talking points in the world of golf.
IT WILL be interesting to see how his fellow professionals greet the news that Bernd Wiesberger is returning to the DP World Tour after being let go by LIV Golf.
The Austrian, an eight-time DP World Tour winner, has had his membership application accepted by the Wentworth-based circuit after fulfilling his financial penalties and suspensions. The Tour says he "expressed his desire to play a full DP World Tour schedule.”
I have to say that I will not be at all surprised if there is some simmering resentment. And it will be justified.
Wiesberger was happy to take the Saudi shilling and turn his back on a tour that provided him with the platform to show the world what he could do. And allowed him to play for Europe in the Ryder Cup. And he has only returned because it turned out that he wasn’t as good as he thought he was.
Had he been offered a contract extension, does anybody seriously believe that the Austrian would have rejected it? Of course he wouldn’t.
I am not saying that Wiesberger should not be allowed to continue his career. But I am saying that it is wrong that he should be allowed to pick up where he left off having paid the requisite fines to the DP World Tour.
Have him back by all means, but tell him that he has to spend a year on the Challenge Tour first.
Wiesberger finished 41st in the LIV Golf League individual standings last season and his team, Cleeks GC, did not renew his contract - after it was revealed he was one of the five LIV pros whose contract had expired. He could have made his way back onto the league via next month's LIV Golf Promotions event, where three spots are up for grabs, but has instead opted to return to his home tour.
He says he'll make his return in Dubai in January and he is "grateful for the opportunity" to play a full schedule again.
The 38-year-old played on the former European Tour from 2011 until 2021, winning eight times, finishing third in the Race to Dubai in 2019 and making his Ryder Cup debut in the mauling at Whistling Straits in 2021.
Since joining LIV Golf, the Austrian has struggled with his best finishes being 11th, 13th and 20th in the 14-event series this year.
Wiesberger’s teammate, Graeme McDowell, has also been released and finds himself without a tour so could also return to the DP World Tour.
This is how the DP World Tour announced Wiesberger’s return:
"Austrian Bernd Wiesberger’s application for membership for the 2024 season has been accepted by the DP World Tour.
"Wiesberger’s membership ceased, and he was removed from the Race to Dubai, after he failed to comply with the Tour’s minimum counting event regulation for the 2023 season, having played in only two counting tournaments – the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship and the Hero Dubai Desert Classic.
"He subsequently expressed his desire to play a full DP World Tour schedule in 2024 and has fulfilled all sanctions – both financial and tournament suspensions - that were imposed upon him for breaches of the Tour’s conflicting event regulation across 2022 and 2023.
"Consequently, his request for reinstatement has been granted by DP World Tour Chief Executive Keith Pelley, in accordance with the procedure set out in the Members’ Regulations.”
I wonder if Pelley consulted any players. I will be fascinated to see the body language when Wiesberger comes face to face with Rory McIlroy next year, probably at the Dubai Desert Classic.
You may remember that at the 2023 Dubai Desert Classic, McIlroy deliberately snubbed LIV golfer Patrick Reed when the American approached him to say hello.
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