Home Sport PGA Tour warns of disciplinary action against players on Saudi golf series

PGA Tour warns of disciplinary action against players on Saudi golf series

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Players joining a new Saudi-backed golf series will face disciplinary action, the PGA Tour warned in the wake of Dustin Johnson’s shock decision to join the money-spinning new venture.

Dustin Johnson joined the controversial Saudi golf event. Picture: Erik S Lesser, EPA

Washington, United States – Players joining a new Saudi-backed golf series will face disciplinary action, the PGA Tour warned on Wednesday in the wake of Dustin Johnson’s shock decision to join the money-spinning new venture.

In a brief statement, the PGA Tour said that any player participating in events on the LIV Golf Invitational Series without authorisation would be subject to sanctions.

On Tuesday, former world number one Johnson was named on a list of 42 players who will take part in the lucrative LIV series’ opening event outside London next week, which clashes with the PGA Tour’s RBC Canadian Open in Toronto.

“As communicated to our entire membership on May 10, PGA TOUR members have not been authorized to participate in the Saudi Golf League’s London event, under PGA TOUR Tournament Regulations,” the PGA Tour said in a statement.

“Members who violate the Tournament Regulations are subject to disciplinary action.”

The statement did not provide any information on what sanctions the rebel golfers playing in LIV events might face.

In the past, PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan has warned that anyone joining a rival venture could be excluded from Tour events and face a possible lifetime ban.

ESPN reported on Wednesday that Monahan had been in talks with several player agents on the sidelines of this week’s Memorial Tournament in Ohio on Wednesday with a simple message that players would not be allowed to play both LIV and PGA Tour events.

While two-time major winner Johnson was the biggest name revealed on Tuesday, other players included two-time major winner Martin Kaymer, and major champions Sergio Garcia, Charl Schwartzel, Louis Oosthuizen and Graeme McDowell.

European Ryder Cup stars Ian Poulter and Lee Westwood were also named in the field.

As the golf world digested the news on Wednesday, four-time major winner Rory McIlroy, a close friend of McDowell, said he did not want his colleagues to face stiff penalties over joining LIV.

“I certainly don’t think they should drop the hammer,” McIlroy replied when asked if he thought authorities should get tough.

“Look, (authorities) are well within their rights to enforce the rules and regulations that have been set.

“But it’s going to end up being an argument about what those rules and regulations are.

“I have some very close friends that are playing in this event in London, and I certainly wouldn’t want to stand in their way to, for them to do what they feel is right for themselves.

“It’s not something that I would do personally. But I certainly understand why some of the guys have went, and it’s something that we are all just going to keep an eye on and see what happens over these next few weeks.”

McIlroy expressed sympathy for those players reaching the tail-end of their careers opting to join LIV for the chance to earn big money.

Next week’s opening LIV event at Centurion Club in St. Albans, north of London, will have the largest purse in golf history at $25 million — almost double that of any major, with $4 million going to the winner.

“You know, you have some guys in a position where like they are literally not guaranteed a job next year,” McIlroy said.

“So someone that isn’t guaranteed their tour card next year, another entity comes along and says, ‘We’ll guarantee you this amount for three years, plus you’re playing for a ton more prize money, and you’re playing less events, you can spend more time with your family.’

“Whenever you sit down and look at some of those things, it’s very appealing to some of those guys that are in that position.”

AFP

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