Tuesday, March 28, 2023

PGA Tour denies release for players in Saudi-funded event

The PGA Tour is refusing to release golfers who have been asked to play in the first series of the Saudi-funded tournament next month in England, prompting commissioner Jay Monahan to quash Greg Norman’s latest bid to launch a lucrative rival league. A bold step in trying.

The first LIV Golf Invitational is scheduled for June 9-11 at Centurion Golf Club outside London, with a 48-man field competing for a $20 million purse on 54 holes. The richest prize winner in golf of all time gets $4 million – and last place gets $120,000.

The tour notified players seeking a release on Tuesday afternoon, and then informed all players of the decision in a brief memo, which was obtained by The Associated Press.

“We have informed those who have applied that their request has been denied in accordance with the PGA Tour Tournament Regulations. As such, Tour members are not authorized under our rules to participate in the Saudi Golf League’s London event,” the memo said.

“As a membership organization, we believe this decision is in the best interest of the PGA Tour and its players.”

While the names of the players who signed up have not been officially released, Phil Mickelson said through his agent that he has asked for a conflicting event release for the London event. Lee Westwood confirmed that last week he had asked the PGA Tour and European tour to release.

Daily Telegraph reported Sergio Garcia, Martin Kemmer and Ian Poulter were also among those demanding a release.

Norman is the CEO of LIV Golf Investments, which is primarily funded by the Public Investment Fund of Saudi Arabia. He told Sky Sport on Tuesday that he will have six of the world’s top 50 players and 19 of the top 100 at the London event.

Now that Monahan has staked his position, it’s up to the players whether they still want to go and run the risk of losing their PGA Tour membership.

When asked about the tour’s next steps, Monahan said, “I can tell you what we’re going to do – keep hosting the best events with the best players in the world, with the biggest fans and partners.”

A week before the US Open, the first LIV event is scheduled for the same week as the RBC Canadian Open, the fourth oldest national open in golf. Norman won it twice.

PGA Tour guidelines generally allow players to receive up to three releases to play in tournaments around the world.

Monahan allowed the release of about two dozen players for the Saudi International on February 3-6 – the same week as Pebble Beach – with the caveat that players going into the event would need to play at Pebble Beach twice. . three years.

But his decision on Tuesday painted the LIV Golf Invitational in a different light, the first of eight such events with a $20 million purse, plus $5 million in prize money for a team component.

Norman has postponed the league concept of 12 four-man teams for a few years after top players said they were not interested.

They have presented the LIV Golf Invitational Series this year as a separate tournament in which players can compete as many times as they want.

The five tournaments are scheduled for the United States, a direct challenge to the PGA Tour as its rules do not allow any releases for tournaments held in North America. The first is scheduled for July 1-3 near Portland, Oregon. Others are for suburban Chicago and suburban Boston, as well as two courses in New Jersey and Miami owned by former President Donald Trump.

The US event, notably the Portland Forest, was seen as the PGA Tour’s first real test of what its players could compete in.

Instead, Monahan fires the first shot, denying London the release. The next step is whether players will challenge him by playing the LIV Golf Invitational anyway. Monahan has said that this will result in the players being sacked.

The move was not entirely surprising. Monahan said at the end of February He told players that the PGA Tour is moving forward “and anyone on the fence needs to make a decision.”

The tour declined the release on the same day that Norman announced an additional $2 billion investment to expand the LIV golf series to 10 tournaments the following year, and a full season of 14 tournaments in 2024 and 2025. He said details of those additional tournaments would be disclosed. Later

“We have a long-term vision and we are here to stay,” said Norman, who tried to start the World Golf Tour in 1994.

The latest effort suffered a major hit in February when the world’s top 10 players said they were sticking with the PGA Tour. The Saudi league’s arch-rival Rory McIlroy referred to it as the “Pre-Champions Tour”, noting that most of those interested were in the twilight of their careers.


More Associated Press Golf: https://apnews.com/hub/golf and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports


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