PGA Tour stops players from joining the Saudi-backed LIV Golf Series

PGA Tour stops players from joining the Saudi-backed LIV Golf Series

ST. ALBANS, England – Only after making their first shots on Thursday did the professional golfers in the new Saudi-funded LIV Golf Invitation Series learn how high they really are.

Minutes after players first set off at the exclusive Centurion Club near London, the PGA Tour stopped 17 of them and said they were “no longer eligible” to participate in an American-based tour or any other event. of its branches.

The penalty was expected, but it also served as a warning: any player joining the emerging league in the future could expect the same dismissal in a letter to PGA Tour commissioners.

“These players made their choices for financial reasons,” Commissioner Jay Monahan wrote in a two-page letter to the rebel tour and tour players who created disrespect for his players. “But they can’t claim the same PGA Tour membership benefits, considerations, capabilities and platform as you. This expectation disrespects you, our fans and partners. ”

Prior to the event at the Centurion Club, most of the players who signed with LIV Golf, including PGA Tour veterans Dustin Johnson, Louis Oosthuizen, Kevin Na and Sergio García, said they had resigned from the PGA Tour, perhaps to avoid being stopped. or a lifetime ban. However, Monaha’s letter states that they are already facing aphorisms.

LIV Golf organizers, who are waiting for another wave of players to sign the richest golf tour in history before the next stop of the eight-event series in Oregon later this month, quickly responded with their statements.

“Today’s announcement by PGA Tour is vengeful, and it deepens the gap between the Tour and its members.” LIV Golf Statement he said. “It’s worrying that the Tour, an organization dedicated to creating opportunities for golfers to play, is an institution that prevents golfers from playing,” he said. This, of course, is not the last word on this issue. The era of free agency begins, as we are proud to have a full range of players joining us in London and beyond.

Some of the LIV Golf players, who were still finishing their rounds after the event began with a shotgun, saw off each of their opponents at the same time, only to be informed of the stops as they made their way to the clubhouse.

Britain’s Ian Poulter insisted that despite participating in the PGA Tour without giving up, he and others in the field did nothing wrong. “Of course, I will appeal,” Poulter told reporters. “It doesn’t matter how I play golf all this time, I have two tour cards and the ability to play all over the world. What’s wrong with that? ”

Phil Mickelson, whose participation was the most interesting and controversial, declined to comment, saying he was not ready to discuss the PGA’s actions. Others, more openly, were convinced that their expulsion was connected with the fierce competition of the established forces of golf. Graeme McDowell, who resigned from the PGA Tour 30 minutes before scoring his first goal in the new tournament, said he had begun consulting with lawyers on the eve of his future.

“We have talked to lawyers. We have a fantastic LIV law team. We have our own legal team. “Some players decided to resign because they were very careful and stayed away from any litigation,” McDowell said.

It was not clear how the PGA Tour memo would deal with players who were encouraged to play in the LIV Golf course in the future, or with those who were eager to join the new tour with great viewing fees and a format that guaranteed each game. six-digit payments for participants in each event.

An interesting mix of team and individual competitions, the event itself drew a crowd that was no different from other golf competitions, with many spectators dressed in golf uniforms, mostly middle-aged or retired. A significant part of the crowd benefited from the hundreds of free tickets provided by the organizers.

“Look at your audience here; Like most sporting events in the UK, it is pale, masculine and old-fashioned, so how does the game of golf develop? “Sports marketing executive Robert O’Siochain, LIV Golf Commissioner Greg Norman and others have questioned the claims of how the new tour will revolutionize the sport.

The event was overshadowed by questions about Saudi Arabia’s motives to invest $ 2 billion in the series, and players were forced to defend themselves against accusations that they were trading their reputations for Saudi Arabia’s highest salary. their careers. These issues were actively discussed by fans around the first podium of the event, where the two star attractions – Johnson and Mickelson – were preparing to learn what attracted them.

Mickelson’s presence proved to be the most controversial. He was outraged in February when he called Saudi Arabia’s human rights record “terrible” and described the series as “a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity” when he used insulting language to describe the country’s leaders. “It’s scary.” Mickelson pulled himself out of the line of fire, saying he would take a break from golf before confirming his participation in the days before the start of the first LIV event. The effect of his behavior can be seen in most school uniforms. His trademark black dress did not have the usual sponsorship patches, many of which ended his contract with him.

Also following in his footsteps was Norman, the former number one player in the world, who was the CEO of LIV. Norman, accompanied by Saudi Golf Federation CEO Majed Al Sorour, embraced the players after their first shots.

In all the discussions about Saudi Arabia’s participation, there were very few indications that the kingdom was involved. Instead, the organizers dressed the Centurion Club with British symbols, perhaps in an attempt to divert attention from the tournament’s supporters. At the edge of Buckingham Palace, a military band dressed as red-clad guards played popular standards, and a fleet of London’s famous black taxis was rented to provide players with a course and ferry from there.

John Davis, who has been a taxi driver for 25 years, said, “We pick them up, let them go and go home.” He said they were hired by a public relations company.

The novelty of the event was obvious, with staff emphasizing that they had only eight weeks to prepare. In the first hole, security personnel and course volunteers were asked to take a large number of spectators to the side of the road as they followed Mikelson’s first shot. Others had difficulty tracking progress on the course due to a lack of charts, and even some of the most popular names, including the British Lee Westwood, struggled to attract the crowd. As Westwood prepared to open the first hole, less than 50 people called the greenery.

Despite the obvious pain and opposition, the scale of Saudi investment shows that the established order is unlikely to see the light of day.

“Finally, everything will go the Saudi way,” said Tony Campbell, a retiree and a regular participant in international golf tournaments. “Why? Because they are richer. Whoever is richer usually gets what he wants. “

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.