The PGA Tour has denied releases to the players looking to play in the first event of the Saudi Arabian-financed LIV Golf Invitational Series, according to a memo obtained by the Associated Press on Tuesday.
The debut tournament, set to take part in London from June 9-11, coincides with the PGA Tour’s RBC Canadian Open that week. As a result, PGA Tour players would have to be granted a release from the tour to compete in the LIV tournament.
The expectation was that the PGA Tour would grant the release to players, similar to ones it’s given to other international events, but the tour informed the players who are seeking releases late Tuesday afternoon, and then notified all players of the decision in a short memo.
“We have notified those who have applied that their request has been declined in accordance with the PGA Tour Tournament Regulations. As such, Tour members are not authorized to participate in the Saudi Golf League’s London event under our regulations,” the memo said. “As a membership organization, we believe this decision is in the best interest of the PGA Tour and its players.”
Phil Mickelson is among the players who had sought a release to play, his longtime agent, Steve Loy of Sportfive, said last month.
It’s the latest setback for Greg Norman, who is attempting to start the lucrative rival league.
The first LIV Golf Invitational at Centurion Golf Club is set to have a 48-man field competing for a $20 million purse over 54 holes. The winner gets $4 million — to date the richest prize in golf — and last place gets $120,000.
Norman is the CEO of LIV Golf Investments, funded primarily by Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund. He told Sky Sport earlier Tuesday he would have six of the top 50 players in the world at the London event and 19 of the top 100.
PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan told players after the PGA Championship in May 2021 that anyone who joined the Saudi-financed league would be suspended and potentially face a lifetime ban from the PGA Tour.
Now that Monahan has staked his position, it’s up to the players to decide if they still want to go and risk losing PGA Tour membership.
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.