PGA Tour suspends players from inaugural LIV Golf Championship

Shortly after the inaugural LIV Golf Invitational Series kicked off, the PGA Tour announced that all 17 members participating in the event had been suspended.

In a memo to PGA Tour members, Commissioner Jay Monahan said players who played in rival Saudi-backed league LIV Golf have not received conflicting tournament and media rights releases and been told they will no longer have Qualify for the PGA Tour Championship and other sanctioned tours.

Ten of the suspended players listed in the letter have previously resigned from their PGA Tour memberships, including LIV golf headliners Phil Mickelson and Dustin Johnson, as well as Sergio Garcia, Tarogucci, Brandon Grace, Matt Jones, Martin Keimer, Graeme McDowell, Kevner, Andy Ogtree, Louis Ushutzen, Turk Pettit, Ian Paul T, Charl Schwarzer, Hudson Swafford, Peter Ullin and Lee Westwood.

Players participating in future LIV golf events will face the same sanctions.

“We followed the rules of the game from start to finish in response to players who deliberately violated the rules and decided to turn their backs on the PGA Tour,” Monahan wrote.

The Rivals League kicked off Thursday’s LIV Golf Invitational at the Centurion Club outside London, in direct conflict with the PGA Tour’s RBC Canadian Open in Toronto.

LIV Golf issued a statement on disciplinary action taken by the PGA Tour.

“Today’s announcement by the PGA Tour is retaliatory and deepens the division between the PGA Tour and its members,” LIV Golf said. “It is disturbing that the tour is an organization dedicated to creating opportunities for golfers to play, yet is the entity that prevents golfers from playing. This is certainly not the final word on this topic. The era of free agency is beginning because we Proud to have a large group of players joining us in London and beyond.”

Funded by the Saudi Arabian Public Investment Fund, where the Saudi government initially pledged $400 million to launch the league, LIV Golf recruited PGA Tour members with lucrative contracts. Mickelson’s deal is reportedly worth about $200 million, while Johnson’s contract is worth about $125 million. With the addition of Bryson DeChambeau and Patrick Reed, the league currently has at least nine former major champions, according to reports.

All will be banned indefinitely from the PGA Tour and sanctioned tours, including the Korn Ferry Tour, the PGA Tour Championship, the PGA Tour Canada and the PGA Tour Latin America. That doesn’t include the sport’s four majors — the Masters, PGA Championship, U.S. Open or Open Championship — which are governed by their respective governing bodies. The Open Championship, the fourth and final major of 2022, will take place in July.

Monahan wrote that players withdrawing from the PGA Tour membership will be removed from the FedExCup standings and ineligible for the Presidents Cup. These players will not be eligible to play in sponsorship waivers or any other qualifying category.

“These players made choices for their own financial reasons,” Monahan wrote. “But they can’t expect the same PGA Tour membership benefits, considerations, opportunities and platforms as you. That expectation doesn’t respect you, our fans and our partners. You make a different choice, and that’s abide by you. Agree to the rules of the game until you achieve your dream of earning a PGA Tour card and, more importantly, becoming a part of the preeminent organization in the world of professional golf.

“I’m sure our fans and partners – who are definitely fed up with all this talk about money and money and more money – will continue to be captivated and compelled by the world-class games you show every week, which creates a real Consequences Every time you get to that elusive circle of winners, every shot you make and your rightful place in history.”

LIV Golf’s next event is scheduled to kick off at Pumpkin Ridge Golf Club in Oregon on June 30, the same day as the PGA Tour’s John Deere Classic.

“You are the PGA Tour, and this moment is about what we stand for: the members of the PGA Tour as a whole,” Monahan wrote. “This is to elevate those who choose to not only benefit from the Tour, but play an integral role in building it. I know you are with us and vice versa. Our partners are with us too. In fact, your ex-tour colleague can’t say the same thing.”

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