The PGA Tour wasted no time in doing what it said it would, suspending its 17 members who are playing in the LIV Golf Invitational Series opener on Thursday at Centurion Golf Club in London.
It did so soon after those players hit their first shots of the tournament, which had a shotgun start.
“These players have made their choice for their own financial-based reasons,” PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan (pictured) wrote in a memo to the tour’s membership. “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. You have made a different choice, which is to abide by the 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 organization in the world of professional golf.”
The memo said players who compete in LIV events are ineligible to participate on the PGA Tour or any other tours it sanctions, including the Korn Ferry Tour, PGA Tour Champions, PGA Tour Canada and PGA Tour Latinoamerica.
Six-time major champion Phil Mickelson and two-time major winner Dustin Johnson are the top players in the 17, and other major champions playing in the LIV event are Graeme McDowell of Northern Ireland, Sergio Garcia of Spain, Louis Oosthuizen of South Africa, Martin Kaymer of Germany and Charl Schwartzel of South Africa.
Others include Lee Westwood of England, Kevin Na, Talor Gooch, Ian Poulter of England, Matt Jones of Australia, Branden Grace of South Africa, Hudson Swafford, Bernd Wiesberger of Austria, Pablo Larrazabal of Spain and Richard Bland of England.
“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,” LIV Golf said in a statement. “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.”
Greg Norman of Australia, a two-time British Open champion and former No. 1 player in the world who heads LIV Golf Investments, called the PGA Tour’s action on Thursday “vindictive.”
Alan Shipnuck, biographer of Mickelson, says he was “physically removed” from the golfer’s Lefty’s press conference on Thursday, apparently because he asked a question that Norman did not appreciate.
Major champions Bryson DeChambeau and Patrick have said they will play in future LIV events, and there have been rumors that other PGA Tour also are planning to do so.