Lee Westwood: I'm not going to play guessing game over ban from tour I love
The Englishman is teeing up in this week’s Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, which he won in 2020, as part of a small posse of other LIV players, which also includes Henrik Stenson, Ian Poulter and Patrick Reed.
They are also playing in next week’s Hero Dubai Desert Classic, the second leg of a Rolex Series double-header in the United Arab Emirates, but it remains to be seen what lies ahead for the LIV players thereafter on this circuit.
A court case due to be held in the UK next month will decide if they will be prohibited from continuing to play on the DP World Tour, having already been stopped from teeing up on the PGA Tour after joining Greg Norman’s breakaway circuit.
“If I do get banned, I’ll cross that bridge when I come to it,” said Westwood, speaking at Yas Links. “I’m not going to play a guessing game. “I love the European Tour, have played on it for 30 years and like to think that I’ve supported it more than anybody. When I had the chance to take up my PGA Tour card in 1998 when I won and when I won in 2010, I didn’t.
“I’ve only taken up my American card sporadically when it became obvious that was the only way to protect my ranking. But, even when I was a member of both tours, I’d always say that I was a member of the European Tour first and foremost. I don’t want that to change.”
While two LIV players, Adrian Otaegui and Sam Horsfield, teed up in the pro-am, Westwood was overlooked for that along with Stenson, Poulter and Reed.
“With the hearing, there is going to be some sort of line drawn in the sand,” said the Ryder Cup legend. “There’ll be clarity, although whether there’s as much clarity as everyone is saying, well let’s see?
“Everything is so vague, too vague. So why not let us play in the pro-am at Wentworth (venue for the BMW PGA Championship) and here this week? Why would you not have, for instance, me and Poults playing at Wentworth. That doesn’t do the sponsors much good?
“Why, with the hearing coming along, would you change the routine. Why not treat us the same until there’s a decision? We aren’t being treated the same?”
Westwood is starting out on his 30th campaign on the DP World Tour, where’s won 35 times. “I’m not sure where the European Tour is now,” he said. “If you’d have told me that I’d be playing in a $9million tournament on tour, I’d struggle to believe you.
“But, then, if you told me there’d only be one member of the world’s top 20 in the field, I’d think you were mad. No disrespect to whoever he is, but the 15th highest-ranked player on the Challenge Tour has got in this week. And this is a short field, as is next week which is another $9million event. I’ve never known it go down so far, even when it was nowhere near this money.”
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