LONDON — The PGA Tour on Thursday said it had suspended the 17 players who’ve taken part in the primary event of the Saudi-backed LIV Golf tour, a move that punished the rebel pros but in addition seemed geared toward dissuading further defections.
In a memo sent to his membership, the PGA Tour’s commissioner, Jay Monahan, said those golfers who teed off in the primary LIV Golf event, which began Thursday outside London, were “now not eligible to participate” in events on the American-based tour or any of its affiliated tours. He also vowed to use the identical suspension to any pro who joins one among the rival tour’s coming events.
Ahead of the event on the Centurion Club, the vast majority of players who had signed on with LIV Golf, including Dustin Johnson, Louis Oosthuizen, Kevin Na and Sergio García, said they’d resigned from the PGA Tour, perhaps to avoid a suspension or lifetime ban. But Monahan’s letter said they faced excommunication anyway.
“These players have made their alternative for their very own financial-based reasons,” Monahan wrote to tour players. “But they will’t demand the identical PGA Tour membership advantages, considerations, opportunities and platform as you. That expectation disrespects you, our fans and our partners.”
The memo didn’t clarify how it could deal in the longer term with the players who’ve been lured to commit to playing on the LIV Golf circuit or those tempted to hitch them by the brand new tour’s huge appearance fees and a format that guarantees every entrant six-figure payouts at each event.
LIV Golf quickly issued a response that suggested it could not be cowed.
“Today’s announcement by the PGA Tour is vindictive and it deepens the divide between the Tour and its members,” its statement said. “It’s troubling that the Tour, a company dedicated to creating opportunities for golfers to play the sport, is the entity blocking golfers from playing. This actually isn’t the last word on this topic. The era of free agency is starting as we’re proud to have a full field of players joining us in London, and beyond.”