Ian Poulter to challenge PGA Tour ban after competing at LIV Golf

Ian Poulter plans to appeal against his suspension from the PGA Tour after golf’s bitter power struggle took a dramatic turn.

Within minutes of the first shots in the opening LIV Golf Invitational Series event being struck, the PGA Tour responded by banning the 17 players in the field who were playing despite having been denied permission.

Among them were six-time major winner and lifetime member Phil Mickelson, former world number one Dustin Johnson and European stars Lee Westwood, Sergio Garcia and Graeme McDowell, with all but Mickelson having resigned from the Tour already.

Poulter had not resigned and repeatedly insisted he had done nothing wrong, despite being denied the required release to play in the controversial Saudi-backed tournament.

"I've played a lot of tournaments all around the world, this event is no different. It's a shame if they view this as something different," Poulter said after an opening round of 75 in the 54-hole event at Centurion Club.

"I will appeal for sure. It makes no sense. Having two Tour cards and the ability to play golf all over the world, what's wrong with that?

"I believe I've been given permission in the past to play in events around the world."

Asked why he had been refused permission on this occasion, Poulter added: "I don't know why. We can all make assumptions as to why. Competition is probably the real reason. It's a power struggle and it's just disappointing."

A legal battle between LIV Golf and the PGA Tour has always looked inevitable, with the players viewing themselves as independent contractors who should be able to play wherever they wish.

"I have spoken to some players, obviously we have spoken to the lawyers," added McDowell, who said he resigned from the PGA Tour to put himself in a "less litigious situation".

Charl Schwartzel takes early lead as first LIV Golf event starts under a cloud

"We have the LIV legal team which are fantastic. We have our own legal team. Some players have decided that, out of an abundance of caution, that they were going to resign and try to stay away from any litigation.

"Some guys believe that they shouldn't be in the situation where they have to resign. They don't feel like they are doing anything wrong.

"OK, we haven't been issued releases. We feel like we should have been issued releases. We've done it for the last 20 years, operated all over the world.

"We're in the UK. You've players like myself and Ian Poulter and Lee Westwood, we are in our home markets here. We should be allowed to operate here as professional golfers.

"But hey, we all know the situation is about something bigger. It's a competition and it's not liked. They are having to play the game the way they feel they have to play it, which is playing hard ball.

"We feel confident that we are well-protected and we are going to just try and do our best."

Sergio Garcia revealed he had resigned his PGA Tour membership more than a week ago and therefore felt he could not be banned.

Sergioa Garcia Spain

"I'm not banned because I'm not a member of it," he said. "He (PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan) received my letter. That's up to him. It doesn't bother me.

"I'm very happy where I am and I'm excited. I thought that today was a great start and that's what I'm going to focus on.

"Obviously we're going to have to wait and see what the European Tour does. But I definitely would like to keep my membership there, play at least my minimum (number of events) and get as good a chance as I can to make the Ryder Cup team because I love that event."

Mickelson revealed he will play all eight LIV Golf events this year and all 10 in 2023, but otherwise refused to comment on today's events.

"Any PGA Tour matters I'm not going to discuss publicly at this time," he said.

READ MORE: Rory McIlroy supports PGA Tour decision to suspend players competing in LIV Golf

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