Memo: PGA Tour denies outings for LIV event

The PGA Tour has denied releases to players wishing to play in the first event of the Saudi-funded LIV Golf Invitational series, according to a memo obtained by ESPN.

The first tournament, scheduled to take place in London from June 9-11, coincides with the RBC Canadian Open on the PGA Tour that week. As a result, PGA Tour players should be granted a tour release to participate in the LIV tournament.

The PGA Tour was expected to grant releases to players, similar to those it has granted for other international events, but this will not be the case as the Tour has informed its players through a memo on Tuesday.

“We have informed those who have applied that their application has been declined in accordance with PGA Tour tournament regulations. As such, Tour members are not permitted to participate in the Saudi Golf League London event in under our rules,” the memo reads. “As a membership organization, we believe this decision is in the best interests of the PGA Tour and its players.”

In the past, PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan has threatened players with lifetime suspensions and/or bans if they play the LIV Golf Series without a release.

LIV Golf CEO Greg Norman told ESPN last week that he has registered players who are willing to challenge the PGA Tour’s position in court.

“I can only speak to information provided to me by our legal team, and I have an extremely talented legal team in antitrust and anti-competition law, and we believe we are in the right position,” said Norman. “We believe players are independent contractors and have the right to go and play wherever they want to play.”

The eight-event LIV series will include four tournaments played in the United States. It will include seven regular season events and a tag team championship game finale at the Trump Doral in Miami from Oct. 28-30.

The second Saudi event is scheduled for July 1-3 at Pumpkin Ridge Golf Club in Portland, Oregon. May 17 is the deadline to request a tour release for this event.

It was expected that releases could be granted for overseas events, but not for tournaments in the United States.

“Portland will probably be an interesting beachhead for player outings and those who want to come and play,” Norman said last week. “But whatever it is, it will happen. Portland will happen. The same with Trump Bedminster, the International, Rich Harvest Farms and Trump Doral. Anything will happen.”

Phil Mickelson is among the players who had requested a release to take part in the London event, his longtime agent Steve Loy of Sportfive said last month. Longtime PGA Tour members Lee Westwood and Sergio Garcia also confirmed they had requested outings from the tour.

Norman told ESPN last week that more than 200 players signed up for the first event, including around 15 of the top 100 on the Official World Golf Rankings.

Norman said he tried to work with the PGA Tour, but Monahan didn’t want to.

“For the PGA Tour to say we’re a breakaway league is completely wrong,” Norman said. “We are not an escape, we are an addendum to the ecosystem of the game of golf. Throwing this animosity at me [is wrong]. It also goes to other institutions. Just because I’m blessed and blessed to be the CEO of this opportunity to grow the game of golf doesn’t mean I’m being targeted for specific reasons and things. It’s crazy.”

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