The PGA Tour has contacted all PGA Tour members informing them that all participants on the Saudi-backed LIV Golf Series, both in Thursday’s opening competition and in future, are suspended immediately.
Tour commissioner Jay Monahan sent out an email deriding those who had “decided to turn their backs on the PGA Tour by willfully violating a regulation”, with the likes of Phil Mickelson involved in the inaugural event outside London on Thursday and Bryson DeChambeau among those confirmed to take part next time out.
The suspensions also apply to players on other PGA Tours including the Champions, Canada, Latinoamerica and Korn Ferry Tours.
In addition, those who have resigned from their memberships - which includes Sergio Garcia, Louis Oosthuizen and Lee Westwood - will be “removed from the FedExCup Points List” and not permitted to play “via sponsor exemptions or any other eligibility category”.
PGA’s statement read:
“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. 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 memberships benefits, considerations, opportunities and platform as you. That expectation disrespects you, our fans and our partners. 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.”
Just ahead of tee-off, Dustin Johnson said he was “excited to get started” as Phil Mickelson lauded the new team-based approach on the Tour.
“I’m excited, It’s a new chapter for golf, the players love it and I think the fans will,” Johnson said. “I think everyone will be excited once they see what goes on here.”
Rory McIlroy, one of those who have spoken out against LIV Golf’s attempts to disrupt the established order of the sport, has continued to reject the chance to join up with the Saudi-backed venture and accused those who have joined up of “short-term thinking” and being swayed by a “boatload of cash”.
Monaghan’s letter also included reference to further questions which are yet to be fully addressed, including whether players who have joined up with LIV Golf could return to the PGA Tour, saying the Tour would be “transparent” in dealing with all issues and respecting the regulations laid down.
LIV Golf quickly released a counter-response to the suspension, condemning the decision from the PGA Tour to suspend individuals.
“Today’s announcement by the PGA Tour is vindictive and it deepens the divide between the Tour and its members,” the statement read.
“It’s troubling that the Tour, an organization 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 in London, and beyond.”