With the LIV Golf Invitational Series releasing its field of competitors for the inaugural event on June 9 Tuesday, PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan is once again making it clear: it’s us or them, not both.
Monahan reportedly told agents of tour players at Muirfield Village Golf Club Wednesday that players wouldn’t be allowed to compete on both circuits, per ESPN.
“As communicated to our entire membership on May 10, PGA Tour members have not been authorized to participate in the Saudi Golf League’s London event, under PGA Tour Tournament Regulations,” the PGA Tour said in a statement. “Members who violate the Tournament Regulations are subject to disciplinary action.”
The PGA Tour denied releases for the event on May 10, as the first LIV Golf event takes place the same weekend as the RBC Canadian Open in Ontario.
The first event, which will tee off in London at Centurion Club, will include 48 players, including the 13 from the PGA Tour that were announced Tuesday. Among the big names are former world No. 1 Dustin Johnson, Louis Oosthuizen, Kevin Na, Sergio Garcia, Ian Poulter, Lee Westwood and Graeme McDowell.
Johnson’s inclusion is perhaps the most notable, if not shocking, as the 37-year-old is a two-time Major winner (2016 U.S. Open, 2020 Masters) and has 24 career wins on tour, third among active tour members (Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson). Johnson, the highest ranking player to join as the world No. 13, reportedly received $125 million to play in LIV Golf, per The Telegraph.
“Dustin’s been contemplating this for the past two years and decided it was in his and his family’s best interest to pursue it,” said Johnson’s agent, Dan Winkle. “He’s never had any issue with the PGA Tour and is grateful for all it’s given him but in the end felt this was too compelling to pass up.”
RBC (Royal Bank of Canada) and UPS have ended their relationships with Johnson and McDowell after they were included in the field of competitors.
“As a result of the decisions made by professional golfers Dustin Johnson and Graeme McDowell to play the LIV Golf Invitational Series opener, RBC is terminating its sponsorship agreement with both players,” RBC told ESPN. “We wish them well in their future endeavors.”
Rory McIlroy is hardly impressed in the strength of the field, he said at a press conference Wednesday ahead of the Memorial, which begins Thursday.
“I certainly don’t think the field is anything to jump up and down about,” McIlroy said. “Look at the field this week. Look at the field next week in Canada. They are proper golf tournaments.”
McIlroy added that he wouldn’t like to see the PGA Tour go overboard with punishments and said he understands why some of the players have decided to play in London.
“I certainly don’t think they should drop the hammer,” McIlroy said. “Look, they are well within their rights to enforce the rules and regulations that have been set. But it’s going to end up being an argument about what those rules and regulations are. I have some very close friends that are playing in this event in London, and I certainly wouldn’t want to stand in their way for them to do what they feel is right for themselves.
“It’s not something that I would do personally. But I certainly understand why some of the guys have [decided to play in London], and it’s something that we are all just going to keep an eye on and see what happens over these next few weeks.”