Watch: ‘If Putin had a tournament, would you play?’ – Ian Poulter and Lee Westwood grilled over LIV decision


Ian Poulter and Lee Westwood were grilled by journalists at a press conference over their decision to join up with the Saudi-backed LIV Golf Series.

he English duo are stalwarts of European golf, having enjoyed plenty of success at the Ryder Cup, but like others including Graeme McDowell, Phil Mickelson and Dustin Johnson, they are now under fire for joining up with a breakaway tour backed by a regime with serious questions around human rights violations.

In one tetchy exchange, Poulter and Westwood were asked if they would play in an event backed by Russian leader Vladimir Putin.

“I don’t need to answer that question. That is speculation, I’m not even going to comment on speculation,” Poulter said.

“You’re just asking us to answer a hypothetical question now which we can’t answer,” Westwood added.

The pair also admitted they are unsure of their futures in the Ryder Cup following their decision to contest the LIV Golf Invitational Series.

Dustin Johnson’s decision to resign from the PGA Tour means he is no longer eligible, as things stand, to play for the United States in the biennial contest.

Poulter and Westwood’s eligibility is tied to their membership of the DP World Tour, whose chief executive Keith Pelley could opt to ban players who compete in the LIV Golf events, despite having been refused permission.

Asked if they were putting future Ryder Cup appearances in jeopardy, Poulter said: “We don’t know. I’d like to think it wouldn’t. It’s an unknown risk, we don’t know how the DP World Tour will view it.”

Westwood added: “It’s something I have to take into account. I’m not sure about the playing days, I’m 50 next April. Captaincy could be in jeopardy as well, but Ian pretty much covered it all.

“What I will say is myself and Ian have been members of the PGA Tour while we’ve been on the European Tour and that’s had no effect in the past on whether people have been captains.

“LIV Golf is another tour so why should it be any different?”

“LIV is there and they’ve made the statement not to try and be a threat to these other tours. I don’t see any reason why all the tours can’t co-exist, they’re not there as a direct threat, although the other tours seem to perceive it that way and not want to work with us.”

The likes of Rory McIlroy, Jon Rahm and Tiger Woods have all committed themselves to the PGA Tour, but Poulter believes more top players may join the LIV Series in the future.

“I definitely see other top players watching this week and wanting to be a part of it,” he added. “I feel there’s a huge investment coming into the game of golf and I think other players will want to come and see what it’s all about.”

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