Martin Dempster: Why Scottish Open blow for Lee Westwood and Ian Poulter is right call

The deed has been done and now we wait patiently to see what happens next.

As had been widely expected, DP World Tour members who played in the inaugural LIV Golf event at Centurion Club recently without securing a release have been prohibited from competing in next week’s Genesis Scottish Open at The Renaissance Club.

The decision means that Lee Westwood, who first played in the event in 1995, won it three years later and had teed up 21 times in total, has been blocked from competing in the tournament on this occasion.

Martin Kaymer, another former winner, is in the same boat, as is Ian Poulter, who made his first Scottish Open appearance in 2000, has played in 17 in total and recorded six top-10 finishes.

Ian Poulter and Lee Westwood share a laugh during the 2020 Scottish Open at The Renaissance Club. Picture: Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images.

Yes, of course, that is disappointing for them and their respective fan bases, but did anyone really expect Keith Pelley, the DP World Tour chief executive, to allow LIV Golf defectors to go unpunished?

At the Betfred British Masters in May, former world No 1 Westwood laid down his case for asking for a release and there can never be any denying his level of support for the game on this side of the Atlantic over the years.

But this isn’t about asking to play in events like the Indonesian Masters or Malaysian Open because, and let’s not beat about the bush here, LIV Golf is trying to blow the PGA Tour in particular but also the DP World Tour out of the water.

How can anyone think differently when vast sums of money are being thrown by Greg Norman at the likes of Phil Mickelson, Dustin Johnson, Bryson DeChambeau and Brooks Kopeka to be part of the Saudi-backed breakaway tour?

With all due respect, I’ve come to the conclusion that, for the time being, it’s probably a case of ‘good riddance’ when it comes to that particular quartet because the game currently has lots of others who are actually proper ambassadors for the sport.

Rory McIlroy, in particular, can step on to the first tee in the 150th Open at St Andrews in just over a fortnight’ time with his held high after the way he’s spoken up for the game and its core values in recent weeks, with Scottie Scheffler, Jon Rahm, Collin Morikawa and Justin Thomas also deserving credit in that respect.

If players want to sign up for LIV Golf - and, in fairness, some significant additions have been made for this week’s second $25 million event in Portland - that’s a decision they are entitled to make.

But, sorry, they can’t be allowed to have their cake and eat it, which is why the action taken in respect of the Genesis Scottish Open is the right one at this moment in time.

Has it harmed the strength of the field? Not at all. Nine of the current world’s top 10 are on the entry list and 14 out of the top 15, including all four major champions. In short, it’s a bloody blockbuster!

Yes, LIV Golf is a threat to the game’s current ecosystem, but, as long as the likes of McIlroy, Rahm and Morikawa stand their ground, there’s hope that money alone won’t be the only factor that gets top players out of their beds each day.

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Nine out of world's top-10 golfers now in field for Genesis Scottish Open
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