DustinJohnson, Phil Mickelson and other PGA Tour members who teeed off Thursday in the Saudi Arabia-funded golf league are no longer eligible for PGA Tour events because Commissioner Jay Monahan announced penalties shortly after the first tee.
Whether these players will ever be welcome back remains to be determined.
The ban includes participation in the Presidents Cup, which is determined for the international team by the world rankings.
The USGA has already said so Eligible players can continue to compete in the US Open next week. The PGA Tour does not conduct the majors.
In a memo to tour members, Monahan said that even if players resigned from the tour before the first LIV Golf Invitational outside of London, they would not be allowed to participate in PGA Tour events as a non-member by receiving a sponsorship waiver.
Ten players have retired from the PGA Tour, a list that includes Johnson and Sergio Garcia. Mickelson, who has earned a lifetime membership with his 45 PGA Tour titles, hasn’t.
“These players made their choices for their own financial reasons,” Monahan wrote. “But they can’t demand the same benefits, considerations, opportunities and platforms of PGA Tour membership that you do. The expectation disregards you, our fans and our partners.”
LIV Golf, run by Greg Norman and funded by Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund, reacted to the tour’s decision by calling it vindictive and divisive.
“It is disturbing that the Tour, an organization dedicated to creating opportunities for golfers to play the game, is the entity preventing golfers from playing,” said LIV Golf. “This certainly isn’t the last word on the subject. The era of free decision-making begins as we’re proud to have a full field of players joining us in London and beyond.”
It’s about players who compete without a conflicting event clearance from the PGA Tour.
Players typically receive three such releases per year for tournaments abroad, but Monahan denied releases for the LIV Golf Invitational as it is an eight-tournament, five-event series in the United States.
The tour does not allow releases for North American events.
“We adhered to the tournament rules from start to finish in response to players who have chosen to leave the PGA Tour by willfully violating a rule,” he wrote.
Monahan said the names of the retired players will be removed from the PGA Tour standings — the FedEx Cup and Presidents Cup — after this week. He said the tour will ensure those who have not resigned will not affect placements on various lists of tour players.
However, questions remain, such as whether players will ever be able to return.
The first test numbers are said to be the Travelers Championship in Connecticut, a week after the US Open. Johnson was among those listed in the field.
The LIV Golf Invitational was streamed on YouTube and Facebook. Before the opening round, Norman said he was thrilled to bring a 30-year effort to fruition.
He attempted to start an elite-only World Golf Tour in the 1990s and had a TV deal on the horizon until the PGA Tour, backed by Arnold Palmer, squashed the moment. Norman realized too late that he didn’t have as much support from the players as he thought. This circuit never got off the ground.
This one did, with the backing of riches golf has never seen before. The Daily Telegraph reported that Johnson was paid $150 million – more than Tiger Wood’s career earnings on the PGA Tour – just for signing up. Mickelson has not denied reports that he was paid $200 million.
Each tournament offers $25 million in prize money, with $4 million going to the individual winner. The richest event on the PGA Tour is The Players Championship at $20 million. This week’s Canadian Open, which features five of the top 10 players in the world, has $8.7 million in prize money.
Associated Press coverage.
Get more out of the PGA Tour Follow your favorites to get information about games, news and more.