The DP World Tour is on a possible collision course with one of its tournament sponsors after suspensions handed to LIV rebels ruled Paul Casey and Martin Kaymer out of next month’s European Open in Hamburg.
Both former Ryder Cup players had entered the event; Casey is an ambassador for Porsche, the title sponsor, while the double major champion Kaymer remains one of Germany’s most high-profile sportsmen. There are serious doubts over whether the German luxury car manufacturer will continue its backing of the tournament, which began in 2015.
Casey and Kaymer were among 26 golfers hit with sanctions, including tournament suspensions and fines ranging from £12,500 to £100,000, on Thursday after not being granted releases to play on the LIV circuit while members of the DP World Tour, formerly the European Tour. A sports arbitration panel ruled in April that the Tour was well within its rights to issue such penalties.
The fines are expected to largely be paid, partly on the basis that some of the golfers involved may want to return to the DP World Tour in the future. However, the suspension element – and particularly its timing – carries broader ramifications. “The total cumulative suspension imposed on any single player for breaches in the period 22 June 2022, to 2 April 2023 is a maximum of eight Tour tournaments, comprising a combination of one- or two-week suspensions,” read a Tour statement. “The suspensions imposed relate to regular season Tour events [ie excluding major championships] and will run consecutively, effective from the Porsche European Open from 1-4 June 2023 – the first tournament chronologically on the Tour schedule whose entry list remains open.”
When that list closes next Thursday, Casey and Kaymer will no longer be in the field for the $2m tournament. Kaymer, who has battled a wrist injury in recent times, has been a consistent supporter of mainstream Tour events in his homeland. Casey did not feature in Germany last year due to fitness troubles of his own but has been a brand ambassador for Porsche since 2020. The 45-year-old Englishman won the European Open in 2019.
A spokesperson for Porsche said: “We heard about the individual sanctions of the Tour against players. But as those are individual we do not know so far what this means exactly to each player and are in contact with the Tour and the managements.” Regarding its association with the tournament, the spokesperson said: “The Porsche European Open is a great event. We are in discussions about the future of the event with the promoter and the Tour.”
The DP World Tour may be unconcerned. Through its alliance with the PGA Tour, prize funds are guaranteed and certain to grow over multiple years. Still, any loss of sponsors encourages the belief that the DP World Tour has been materially harmed by LIV’s arrival.
Henrik Stenson, who was stripped of the Ryder Cup captaincy after signing with LIV, has become the latest European to resign from his home continent’s Tour. Stenson follows the lead of Lee Westwood, Ian Poulter, Sergio García and Richard Bland by terminating his membership, with others certain to do likewise.
“They left me with no other choice so I have resigned,” said Stenson. “That’s it. I don’t really feel like it will do any good to dig into this too deeply. I’m appreciative of what the tour has done for me over the years. But they have chosen how they want to view the future and we have obviously done the same. Unfortunately, they don’t go together at this point.”