It was long believed that the PGA Tour would grant permission for its members to tee up in the opening LIV Golf Invitational event.
Due to the precedent set that the Tour is generally OK with players competing in conflicting events as long as they’re not on US soil, the likes of Phil Mickelson, Lee Westwood, and Sergio Garcia were expected to play at Centurion in June.
But it is a mystery no more.
In a letter sent out by PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan, obtained by Golfweek, players were told that “the event for which you have requested release is the first in an eight-event ‘2022 LIV Golf Invitational Series’ season, and more than half of them will be held in the United States”.
The memo reiterated that any players teeing up in the Saudi Arabia-funded series will face disciplinary action, which could include a suspension of even a loss of their PGA Tour membership.
“We have notified those who have applied that their request has been declined in accordance with the PGA Tour tournament regulations,” the statement read. “As such, tour members are not authorised to participate in the Saudi Golf League’s London event.
“As a membership organisation, we believe this decision is in the best interest of the PGA Tour and its players.”
The announcement had come just hours after LIV Golf CEO Greg Norman had announced an additional $2 billion of funding to extend the series to 10 events in 2023, with the originally-planned league status starting in 2024.
Norman responsed with a statement of his own.
“Sadly, the PGA Tour seems intent on denying professional golfers their right to play golf, unless it’s exclusively in a PGA Tour tournament,” the Australian said. “This is particularly disappointing in light of the Tour’s non-profit status, where its mission is purportedly ‘to promote the common interests of professional tournament golfers’.
“Instead, the Tour is intent on perpetuating its illegal monopoly of what should be a free and open market. The Tour’s action is anti-golfer, anti-fan, and anti-competitive.
“But no matter what obstacles the PGA Tour puts in our way, we will not be stopped.
“We will continue to give players options that promote the great game of golf globally.”
Less than 24 hours later, it was then reported that the DP World Tour has followed the PGA Tour’s lead in refusing to release any of their players to compete in the LIV Golf Invitational.
This one isn’t over, folks.
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