Seventeen golfers who are currently playing in the LIV Golf Series have been suspended for an unspecified period, the PGA Tour announced Thursday, saying the players made their choice to play in the Saudi-backed league for “financial-based reasons.” Those who chose to participate in the future will also be suspended, the Tour announced.
The announcement came roughly 30 minutes after the LIV teed off in London for its first 54-hole, team-oriented tournament.
Players who have resigned their PGA Tour membership won’t be eligible for the FedEx Cup Playoffs and will not be allowed to play in PGA Tour events as “a non-member via a sponsor exemption or any other eligibility category.”
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“I am certain our fans and partners — who are surely tired of the all this talk of money, money and money — will continue to be entertained and compelled by the world-class competition you display each and every week, where there are true consequences for every shot you take and your rightful place in history whenever you reach that elusive winner’s circles,” PGA Tour president Jay Monahan said in a statement.
“We have followed the Tournament Regulations from start to finish in responding to those players who have decided to turn their backs on the PGA Tour by willfully violating a regulation,” Monahan added. “Simultaneous to you receiving this memo, the players are being notified that they are suspended or otherwise no longer eligible to participate in PGA Tour tournament play, including the Presidents Cup.”
The LIV Golf Series responded Thursday with a statement saying the suspensions were “vindictive” and that it “deepens the divide between the Tour and its members.”
“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,” LIV Golf said.
The LIV Golf tour was formed in 2020, backed by the Public Investment Fund, the sovereign wealth fund of Saudi Arabia. The tour is controversial because the Saudi government has been accused of human rights violations, including potential ties to the killing of Washington Post reporter Jamal Khashoggi.
LIV Golf — whose name is derived from the Roman numeral for 54 — plans to run eight events between June and October in North America, Europe, the Middle East and Asia. Each event will consist of 54 holes (three 18-hole days), where 48 players will compete on 12 different teams.
The LIV Tour also said there won’t be any cuts and each round will be a shotgun start in hopes to speed up the pace of play. LIV Golf will dole out a combined $250 million in prize money across events, individual winners, and winning teams.
Dustin Johnson announced this week that he resigned from the PGA Tour and intends to participate only in LIV Golf events and majors in the immediate future. He reportedly received $125 million to join the tour. He joins Kevin Na, Sergio Garcia, Talor Gooch, Ian Poulter and others for the tour’s inaugural event at the Centurion Golf Club outside of London.
While 2020 U.S. Open champion Bryson DeChambeau won’t play in the inaugural event, his agent announced Wednesday that he will join the league, starting July 1-3 for the tour’s event in North Plains, Oregon.