The PGA Tour has suspended all 17 members competing in the inaugural LIV Golf International Series event, it announced Thursday.
Players who resigned from their membership before starting the LIV golf event which is being held outside London and which started on Thursday are also no longer eligible to participate in the tour events or the Presidents Cup.
“These players made their choice for their own financial reasons,” PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan wrote in a note to tour members. “But they can’t demand the same PGA TOUR membership benefits, considerations, opportunities and platform that you do. That expectation disrespects you, our fans and our partners. You made a different choice, which is to abide by the tournament rules that you agreed to the moment you achieved the dream of earning a PGA TOUR card and, more importantly, competing within the preeminent organization in the world of professional golf.”
The memo states that players who compete in LIV events are ineligible to compete on the PGA Tour or any other tours it sanctions, including the Korn Ferry Tour, PGA Tour Champions, PGA Tour Canada and PGA Latin American Tower.
Monahan wrote that all players who participate in future LIV Golf events will face the same punishment.
“I’m sure our fans and partners – who are surely tired of all the talk of money, money and more money – will continue to be entertained and energized by the world-class competition you put on every week. where there are real consequences for every shot you take and your rightful place in history every time you hit that elusive winner’s circle,” Monahan wrote.
“You are the PGA TOUR, and this moment is about what we represent: all PGA TOUR members. It’s about uplifting those who not only choose to benefit from the TOUR, but also play a vital role in its construction. . I know you are with us, and vice versa. Our partners are also with us. The fact that your former TOUR colleagues cannot say the same should be telling.”
LIV Golf, in a statement, called the PGA Tour’s punishment “vindictive” and said it “deepens the rift between the Tour and its members.”
“It’s troubling that the Tour, an organization dedicated to creating opportunities for golfers to play the game, is the entity keeping golfers from playing,” LIV Golf said. “It is certainly not the last word on this subject. The era of free agency begins as we are proud to have a full group of players joining us in London and beyond.”
The PGA Tour announced the discipline less than 30 minutes after 17 of its members or former members who resigned from the tour last week hit their first tee shots at the inaugural LIV Golf event at Centurion Club in outside of London.
Among them were six-time Major champion Phil Mickelson, two-time Major champion Dustin Johnson and longtime Ryder Cup participants Ian Poulter, Lee Westwood and Sergio Garcia.
Two other former major winners, 2020 US Open champion Bryson DeChambeau and 2018 Masters champion Patrick Reed, have also reached deals with LIV Golf to compete in future tournaments, sources told ESPN on Wednesday. LIV Golf officials have also had ongoing discussions with other players, including Rickie Fowler and Jason Kokrak.
Johnson and Garcia are among the players who resigned from the tour, along with 2010 Open champion Louis Oosthuizen, 2011 Masters champion Charl Schwartzel and Kevin Na. The players hoped to avoid the punishment of the tour by quitting.
Monahan said the 10 players who have resigned from their PGA Tour memberships will be removed from the FedEx Cup points standings after this week’s RBC Canadian Open. He wrote that “those players will not be permitted to play in PGA tournaments as a non-member through a sponsor exemption” or any other eligibility category.
“This week, the RBC Canadian Open is a shining example of what you have created with the PGA Tour: a star-studded field, an engaged sponsor, sold-out hospitality offers, record crowds and global exposure,” Monahan wrote. “These elements are part of the DNA of the Tour, built by people like Jack and Arnie, supported by Tiger and countless others – whose legacies are inextricably linked, with each other and with the PGA Tour. collective cannot be bought or sold.”
LIV Golf CEO Greg Norman, a former world No. 1 golfer and two-time Open winner, has told ESPN in the past that the new tour is ready to help its players fight the PGA Tour’s position in court. . Norman said he has players who are ready to take part in a legal battle.
“I can only speak to information provided to me by our legal team, and I have an extremely talented legal team in antitrust and anti-competition law, and we believe we are in the right position,” said Norman. “We believe players are independent contractors and have the right to go and play wherever they want to play.”
On May 10, the PGA Tour denied versions of conflicting events to players who had requested them. Monahan had repeatedly told players that they would be punished for participating in LIV events without a release.
The first LIV golf tournament in the United States is scheduled for June 30-July 2 at Pumpkin Ridge in Portland, Oregon.
The LIV Golf series features 54-hole events, shotgun tee times, no cuts, and a team format. All seven regular season events – a list that also includes stops in Bedminster, New Jersey; Boston; and Chicago – offer $25 million purses, the richest in golf history. The winner gets $4 million and the last one takes home $120,000. A season-ending tag team championship, Oct. 27-30 at Trump National Doral in Miami, has a purse of $50 million.
According to reports, top players have also received signing bonuses from LIV Golf worth over $100 million.
A longtime PGA Tour player who has not been approached to play on the LIV Golf series told ESPN he agrees the tour should punish players to prevent others from defecting.
“We’re going to end up in a worse position because these guys wanted a quick cash grab to go and play in an exhibition,” the player said. “The [Saudis] will eventually lose interest. I think we all have a bit of a responsibility to leave the game better than when we got here, and representing a sleazy government with a dodgy record doesn’t do that.”
LIV Golf is backed by Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund, which is controlled by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. Salman has been accused of numerous human rights abuses, including the murder of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi in 2018.
Four-time winner Rory McIlroy, speaking at a press conference at the RBC Canadian Open in Toronto on Wednesday, said he was concerned about the future of golf.
“I think it’s a shame that it fractures the game,” McIlroy said. “I think the professional game is the showcase of golf. If the general public doesn’t know who’s playing where and what tournament is going on this week and, OK, they’re not getting into those events, it becomes so I think everything has to try to become more consistent, and I think it was on a pretty good trajectory until that happened.