Players competing in the LIV Golf Invitational Series have been suspended by the PGA Tour.
The most lucrative golf tournament in history got under way on Thursday, following a trumpet fanfare and with fighter planes circling overhead.
As LIV Golf CEO Greg Norman watched on, Phil Mickelson, Dustin Johnson and Scott Vincent teed off on the opening hole in the first $25 million (€23 million) Invitational Series event at Centurion Club.
PGA TOUR Commissioner Jay Monahan informed the TOUR membership today that players competing without releases are suspended and ineligible to participate in TOUR-sanctioned competition.
— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) June 9, 2022
But 30 minutes after play got under way, the PGA Tour sent a memo to all members informing them that the players competing at Centurion were being suspended.
“In accordance with the PGA Tour’s Tournament Regulations, the players competing this week without releases are suspended or otherwise no longer eligible to participate in PGA Tour tournament play, including the Presidents Cup,” the statement from PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan read.
“This also applies to all tours sanctioned by the PGA Tour: the Korn Ferry Tour, PGA Tour Champions, PGA Tour Canada and PGA Tour Latinoamerica.
“Their participation in the Saudi Golf League/LIV Golf event is in violation of our Tournament Regulations. The same fate holds true for any other players who participate in future Saudi Golf League events in violation of our Regulations.”
Official statement from LIV Golf pic.twitter.com/UBt4DpRdS4
— LIV Golf (@LIVGolfInv) June 9, 2022
It is a tournament which has thrown the world of men’s professional golf into turmoil, with Johnson resigning from the PGA Tour to take part and Mickelson committing at the last minute for a fee reported to be 200 million (USD).
All 48 players in the field teed off at the same time in a “shotgun start”, the 16 groups of three spread around the course in Hertfordshire.
LIV Golf swiftly hit back with a statement which read: “Today’s announcement by the PGA Tour is vindictive and it deepens the divide between the Tour and its members.
“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 in London, and beyond.”
Dustin Johnson, Sergio Garcia, Martin Kaymer, Graeme McDowell and Lee Westwood had already resigned from the Tour.
They will be removed from the FedEx Cup points list following the end of the RBC Canadian Open on Sunday and, crucially, will not be allowed to play PGA Tour events as a non-member via sponsor’s exemptions.
“These players have made their choice for their own financial-based reasons,” Monahan added.
“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.”