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Scottish Open: ‘If you’re gone, you’re gone’ – Stephen Gallacher and Russell Knox lambast returning LIV Golf rebels

Scot Russell Knox. a member of the PGA Tour's Player Advisory Board, slated LIV rebels' attempt to force their way into the Scottish Open.

Senior Scots pros Stephen Gallacher and Russell Knox have lambasted LIV Golf rebels for trying to “double-dip” and get back into the Genesis Scottish Open through the courts.

16 DP World Tour members were banned from the £6.6 million co-sanctioned event at The Renaissance in East Lothian for playing LIV Golf events. They have threatened legal action to get back in the stellar field.

The Scottish, for the first time part of both the DP World and PGA Tours, has 14 of the top 15 players in the world competing. All four major champions – Collin Morikawa, Scottie Scheffler, Justin Thomas and Matt Fitzpatrick – tee up on Thursday.

The LIV players – being called “The Sour 16” by those loyal to the DP World Tour – include Ryder Cup veterans Lee Westwood, Ian Poulter, Graeme McDowell, Martin Kaymer and Sergio Garcia.

They were all fined £100,000 and banned from the Scottish for defying tour rules and playing the Saudi-funded LIV Golf’s opening event last month.

On Monday night three of the 16 – Poulter, South African Justin Harding and Spaniard Adrian Otaegui – had their sanctions revoked pending a full appeal at the International Dispute Resolution Centre by Sports Resolutions, a non-profit UK body that settles disputes without resorting to the courts.

All three can now play at Renaissance, but are unlikely to be welcomed back as the legal action has clearly heightened tensions between rebels and the loyalists.

‘Shame on them, actually’

Knox, the Florida-based Scot from Inverness, is a member of the PGA Tour’s Player Advisory Council and was unequivocal.

“If they’re gone, they’re gone in my opinion,” he said. “Never to be seen again, you won’t be missed. That’s the way I’ve looked at it from Day 1.

“They have to try and claw their way back because they need to. If that tour doesn’t get world ranking points they’re going to have to play somewhere, if they’re not just doing it for money.

“If you’ve gone and you’re happy with the decision, own up to it, play that tour and be done with it.

“But the guys trying to double-dip, shame on them, actually.”

Some of Knox’s friends had ‘defected’, he added.

“They’ve gone for the money and can you blame them for that? Not really,” he continued.

‘I just don’t like it’

“Is it good for golf and something I’d do? No. It leaves a weird feeling for me, I just don’t like it.

“I loved Dustin Johnson’s attitude; I’m gone, I’ve owned it, I’m doing it for my family, I’m happy with my decision. How can you not respect someone who has made their decision, even if you don’t agree with it?

“All those guys saying we’re growing the game, it’s good for golf. Come on.”

From a European Ryder Cup perspective, Knox thinks it might clear the decks a little.

“One potentially good thing is it’s got rid of all the old boys who were hanging on for dear life,” he said. “They’re gone now. So good, there’ll be a lot of great young players coming in and it might be the best thing that’s ever happened for us.”

‘Don’t try and come back and double dip’

Gallacher, who sits on the influential DP World Tournament Committee, echoed Knox’s comments.

“A lot of guys have left and taken the money and I have no gripes with that at all,” said the four-time tour winner. “Just don’t try to come back and double dip into our biggest events.

“Accept what you are doing, play for whatever you want in your team event. But just don’t come back and try to interfere and disrupt these tournaments which have been going around for ages and are brilliant events.

“Come back to play The Open, and thanks very much.”

And Gallacher added it was “pretty unanimous” among loyal tour members that they don’t want the rebels back.

“I don’t think the Scottish Open deserves this backdrop,” he said. “Padraig Harrington quoted it perfectly. You’ve made your bed and you lie in it.

“We had a big players meeting the other night. Keith Pelley laid out the plans and it was pretty unanimous that everyone in our Tour was behind it. There’s an acceptance from us guys that those guys are all away.”

Three more Scots into the field

Three more Scottish players entered the field, the highest ranked in DP World Tour history, yesterday, taking it to nine in all.

One is Aberdeen’s David Law, who finished fourth in the Irish Open at the weekend and booked a spot at the 150th Open in the process.

Drumoig’s Connor Syme also got an invitation to play. The third went to four-time Tour winner Marc Warren, who came so close to winning the Scottish in 2012.