Ian Poulter has made plain his belief that golf’s leading executives cannot continue in position if LIV players are to be properly assimilated back into the traditional tours. Poulter answered “yes” when asked whether heads must roll in the sport’s corridors of power before peace can break out. Poulter’s longtime Ryder Cup teammate Lee Westwood has criticised “hypocrisy” in its upper echelons.
The announcement last month that a framework agreement is in place between the PGA Tour, DP World Tour and Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF) – which backs LIV – triggered the prospect of Poulter and others returning to former playing domains. At the Centurion Club in Hertfordshire – where LIV returns this weekend – Poulter explained why that situation is not straightforward. LIV golfers have long memories.
“People need to be accountable for their actions,” Poulter said. “It would definitely help. I’m not going to say what those changes have to be but I think we would add value to a tournament if we were to play. Shall we say, there needs to be changes.”
Westwood is of similar mind. “LIV comes along and it’s a direct threat to their business so they had to think of some way of combating that,” said the former world No 1. “It’s the way they went about it, how they came up with their tactics that we’re all kind of shocked about now and having seen what’s transpired since.”
Pressed on whether there was an element of hypocrisy in the way members of golf’s hierarchy have behaved, Westwood said: “There’s definitely a look of it. There’s a lot of people now looking like hypocrites. You’ve seen what people are saying in the press and now they’re backtracking. Jay [Monahan, the PGA Tour’s commissioner] even admitted himself he’s going to look hypocritical. We don’t have to say it any more.”
Monahan had previously used the 9/11 atrocity as rationale as to why golf should not be doing deals with Saudis. Yasir al-Rumayyan, the governor of the PIF, was here on Wednesday.
Poulter remains hopeful he can captain Europe in the Ryder Cup in the future. Poulter, Westwood, Henrik Stenson and Sergio García resigned from the DP World, formerly European, Tour but the framework agreement provides scope for that landscape to change.
“Having a conversation at a sensible level would lead you to believe one day you might have the opportunity to do it,” Poulter said. “It has taken 12 months to get to this position. To not become captain or not be able to assist the Ryder Cup team would be a shame.”