For months, LIV Golf CEO Greg Norman has publicly tried to position his organization’s audacious plan to create a new golf league as additive, not antagonistic, to professional golf.
It’s clear now that the PGA Tour doesn’t see it that way.
By denying requested waivers from an unknown number of players including Phil Mickelson, Lee Westwood and Sergio García seeking permission to play in the inaugural LIV Golf event next month near London, the PGA Tour further established its position regarding the new league.
It’s effectively off-limits to PGA Tour players. The DP World Tour also denied waivers to members seeking permission to play in the LIV Golf series.
“As a membership organization, we believe this decision is in the best interest of the PGA Tour and its players.” – PGA Tour memo
The PGA Tour’s decision, relayed to players in a memo from executive vice president Tyler Dennis circulated Tuesday, came just hours before LIV Golf announced a $2 billion commitment to its new series through 2025, raising the stakes in what has become a battle about money, player access and power.
“As a membership organization, we believe this decision is in the best interest of the PGA Tour and its players,” the memo read.
It has seemed destined for a court battle, and the PGA Tour’s decision to deny permission to players to participate in the overseas event is likely to create a legal challenge both sides believe they will win.
There was some thought the tour might allow players to tee it up in England at the Centurion Club on June 9-11 because the tournament is not being played in North America. The second event – scheduled to be played at Pumpkin Ridge in Oregon in July – figured to be the showdown site because PGA Tour rules do not allow waivers for competing events in North America.
It’s unknown how many or whether any PGA Tour members will participate in the England event despite the tour’s decision. If they do, they would be subject to disciplinary action, which could range from a fine to suspension. PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan has made it clear in the past that a permanent ban from the tour could face players who join the LIV Golf series.
“Sadly, the PGA Tour seems intent on denying professional golfers their right to play golf, unless it’s exclusively in a PGA Tour tournament,” Norman said in a statement released Tuesday evening. “This is particularly disappointing in light of the Tour’s non-profit status, where its mission is purportedly ‘to promote the common interests of professional tournament golfers.’
“Instead, the Tour is intent on perpetuating its illegal monopoly of what should be a free and open market. The Tour’s action is anti-golfer, anti-fan, and anti-competitive. But no matter what obstacles the PGA Tour puts in our way, we will not be stopped. We will continue to give players options that promote the great game of golf globally.”
In London today, LIV Golf is announcing its Invitational Series tournament schedule through 2025, with the infusion of a $2 billion investment. Having previously announced an eight-event schedule this year with $255 million in prize money, LIV Golf intends to have a 10-event schedule in 2023 and play 14 events in both 2024 and 2025.
The events will be played around the world, including several in the United States. At this point, no players have been announced, nor has a broadcast partner, but those announcements are expected in the next two weeks.
The LIV Golf events will be 54 holes with shotgun starts and, according to the organization, will not be played opposite major championships or “heritage” events on the PGA Tour.
© 2022 Global Golf Post LLC
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