LONDON: The DP World Tour has won its legal battle to be able to suspend and fine LIV Golf players who featured in conflicting events without permission after the independent UK-based panel of Sports Resolutions found in its favour on Thursday. Members of the DP World Tour, also known as the European Tour, who played in Saudi-backed LIV Golf’s opening tournament last June sought a “conflicting event” exemption but the request was denied and they received three-event bans and fines. “It is what it is,” shrugged Belgian Thomas Pieters, after carding an opening round two-over 74 at the Masters on Thursday. “We had it coming. It’s just part of the deal, I guess. But it’s their decision, and I respect it. I would love to play my home Open. I don’t see how it’s good for the game if I have to skip the tournament. They’re just hurting themselves really.” Most players at Augusta National walked off the course at the end of their rounds on Thursday unaware of the decision, with former-Masters champions Sergio Garcia and Patrick Reed saying they were focused on golf not court cases. “I was going to look at that and deal with all that after this week. My main focus this week is on this tournament,” said Reed, who opened his Masters account with a 71. “Once tournament week starts, especially majors, I don’t look at anything, read anything. “When tournament starts, I have blinders on.” Ian Poulter, Adrian Otaegui and Justin Harding appealed against the decision and the punishments were put on hold pending an appeal, which allowed LIV players to continue competing on the DP World Tour without penalty. The appeal panel on Thursday said the sanctioned players “committed serious breaches” of the code of behaviour of the DP World Tour’s regulations by playing in LIV events despite their release requests having been refused. The decision could have huge implications for Lee Westwood, Poulter and Garcia, who may face bans from the Ryder Cup. “The appeals were dismissed and each of the Appellants were ordered to pay the fine of 100,000 pounds ($124,540.00)originally imposed by (the DP World Tour),” it added. The panel found that DP World Tour Chief Executive Keith Pelley “acted entirely reasonably in refusing releases” and that the regulations “cannot be said to go beyond what is necessary and proportionate to the (DP World Tour’s) continued operation as a professional golf tour”. Pelley welcomed the decision. “We are delighted that the panel recognised we have a responsibility to our full membership to do this and also determined that the process we followed was fair and proportionate,” he said. “In deciding the level of these sanctions last June, we were simply administering the regulations which were created by our members and which each of them signed up to.” Matthew Schwartz, counsel to LIV Golf, said the procedural opinion of DP World Tour’s arbitration body had failed to reasonably address why “competitive forces must be upheld”. “By punishing players for playing golf, the DPWT is seeking to unreasonably control players and it is the sport and fans that suffer. There are no winners,” Schwartz added. The PGA Tour, in a decision released moments after play began in the lucrative breakaway series’ inaugural event last June, suspended members who played in the LIV Golf event and said anyone else who makes the jump will face the same fate. Critics have said the $255 million LIV series is a vehicle for Saudi Arabia to try and improve its image in the face of criticism of its human rights record.