PGA Tour Commissioner Announces Suspensions for Defectors, LIV Golf Responds with Spicy Statement

by Bryan Fyalkowski

The beef between the PGA Tour and LIV Golf is getting spicy.

Minutes after the first tee shot of LIV Golf’s inaugural invitational event in London, the PGA Tour sent out a lengthy memo. Sent from Commissioner Jay Monahan, the memo went out to all its members. He addresses “the current and former PGA Tour players who are participating in the Saudi Golf League … who have decided to turn their backs on the PGA Tour by willfully violating a regulation.”

At the bottom, the memo lists 14 players suspended or no longer eligible to participate in PGA Tour tournaments. Most notably, it includes longtime PGA Tour stars like Sergio Garcia, Dustin Johnson and Phil Mickelson.

In response, LIV Golf then tweeted a rival statement within 30 minutes. It states that it is “troubling that the PGA Tour, an organization dedicated to creating opportunities for golfers to play the game, is the entity blocking golfers from playing.”

LIV Golf tees off for 54 holes at the Centurion Club in London. Meanwhile, the PGA Tour is hosting the RBC Canadian Open in Toronto.

Oh, it’s on like Donkey Kong.

LIV Golf Challenges PGA Tour

The main reason why LIV Golf events are appealing to players is the money. There are eight events scheduled from June to October, with the overall purse of each one at $25 million. In total, there are 48 players split between 12 four-man teams. The top three teams will split $5 million and then the remaining $20 million will be divided individually, with the winner earning $4 million.

Unlike PGA Tour events, there is no mid-tournament cut – so even the last-place finisher receives $120,000. Membership in the PGA Tour also comes with other benefits like pensions and health insurance. But players in recent years have challenged the notion that players who do not make the cut would earn zilch for their work throughout the week.

There have been questions about whether LIV Golf is ethical to exist at all. The venture is backed by $2 billion from Saudi Arabia’s government’s Public Investment Fund, with no one knowing exactly how that money was collected. Overall, the nation has a record of despicable human rights violations and horrible treatment of marginalized groups, among other questionable acts and practices.

LIV Golf has brought one of the game’s legends, Greg Norman, as chief executive. He went on record downplaying the Saudis’ role in killing Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi. Another LIV Golf ambassador, Mickelson, called the Saudis “scary motherf—ers” in a recent interview. Still, he chose to pursue the opportunity to help LIV Golf challenge the PGA Tour.

Jay Busbee of Yahoo! Sports has an incredibly informative write-up on the entire situation. There is a lot of work ahead of them. However, LIV Golf could be a legitimate threat to the PGA Tour going forward.