Saudi-backed LIV golf hits back at ‘vindictive’ PGA Tour as body bans defectors
Mickelson pushed on LIV Golf commitments
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The Saudi-backed LIV golf series has fired back at the PGA Tour’s statement banning defecting players. Those who made the switch to the controversial breakaway circuit are now prohibited from competing on the tour run by golf’s governing body.
Tour commissioner Jay Monahan has confirmed the news and sent a strong-worded email to the rebel players, 30 minutes after the first LIV Golf Series event got underway in Hertfordshire. Monahan said the players “decided to turn their backs on the PGA Tour by willfully violating a regulation” to play in the LIV Golf Series.
“The players are being notified that they are suspended or otherwise no longer eligible to participate in the PGA Tour tournament play, including the Presidents Cup,” he continued. “As you know, players listed below did not receive the necessary conflicting event and media rights releases – or did not apply for releases at all – and their participation in the Saudi Golf League / LIV Golf Event is in violation of our Tournament Regulations.
“This same fate holds true for any other players who participate in future Saudi Golf League events. These players have made their choice for their own financial-based reasons. But they can’t demand the same PGA Tour membership benefits, considerations, opportunities and platform as you. That expectation disrespects you, our fans and our partners.
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“You have made a different choice, which is to abide by tournament regulations you agreed to when you accomplished the dream of earning a PGA Tour card and – more importantly – to compete as part of the preeminent organisations in the world of professional golf.” The eight-tournament golf series, founded by two-time British Open winner Greg Norman, posted a damning riposte as the bitter dispute between the two circuits continues to escalate.
“Today’s announcement by the PGA Tour is vindictive and it deepens the divide between the Tour and its members,” they began. “It’s troubling that the tour, an organisation dedicated to creating opportunities for golfers to play the game, is the entity blocking golfers from playing.
“This certainly is not the last word on this topic. The era of free agency is beginning as we are proud to have a full field of players joining us on London, and beyond.” 17 players, including Phil Mickelson, Sergio Garcia, Dustin Johnson, Ian Poulter and Lee Westwood will no longer be allowed to play in PGA Tour events.
The eight-series tournament worth £200 million aims for a quicker, sexier version of the game – like T20 cricket – to appeal to a younger, wider audience.
There was a shotgun start which will see all 48 players tee off at the same time – to fit the action into a shorter window instead of the usual staggered starts throughout the day. There is no cut. The field is divided into 12 teams, with Ian Poulter’s team named the Majesticks – after an NFL-style draft took place on Tuesday night.
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