As expected, PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan is making things extremely clear to the golf world this week at Muirfield Village.
Players need to pick a side. Either stick with the PGA Tour, or join the Saudi Arabia-backed LIV Golf Invitational Series.
Playing in both, he again told several agents of Tour players on Wednesday, via ESPN’s Mark Schlabach, won’t be allowed.
“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 Tour said in a statement, via ESPN. "Members who violate the Tournament Regulations are subject to disciplinary action."
LIV Golf officially announced the 42-player field for its opening event next week at the Centurion Club in London. That field is highlighted by Dustin Johnson, Sergio Garcia, Louis Oosthuizen and more.
Johnson, who is currently ranked No. 13 in the Official World Golf Rankings, was by far the biggest name to jump ship to the controversial Greg Norman-run venture. His involvement came as a surprise, especially since he had said in February that he was “fully committed” to the PGA Tour.
“Dustin has been contemplating the opportunity off-and-on for the past couple of years,” Johnson’s agent said in a statement. “Ultimately, he decided it was in his and his family’s best interest to pursue it. Dustin has never had any issue with the PGA Tour and is grateful for all it has given him, but in the end, felt this was too compelling to pass up.”
It’s unclear what the PGA Tour will do in response, though Monahan has threatened players with the loss of their Tour card should they play in LIV events. The Tour declined waivers for players to play in the London tournament last month.
Even if Monahan does ban players from Tour events, they will still likely be able to compete in the four major championships — which are run separately from the Tour.
“I certainly don't think [the PGA Tour] should drop the hammer,” Rory McIlroy said Wednesday ahead of the Memorial tournament. “Look, they are well within their rights to enforce the rules and regulations that have been set. But there's going to be — you know, it's going to end up being an argument about what those rules and regulations are.
“Look, 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. I certainly — it's not something that I would do personally — but I certainly understand why some of the guys have went [to the LIV Golf Invitational Series], and it's something that we are all just going to keep an eye on and see what happens over these next few weeks.”
As for the now competing Tours, McIlroy sees a clear winner.
“I certainly don't think the field is anything to jump up and down about,” he said. “Look at the field this week. Look at the field next week in Canada. They are proper golf tournaments.”
RBC cuts ties with Dustin Johnson, Graeme McDowell
The Royal Bank of Canada has officially cut ties with Dustin Johnson and Graeme McDowell.
The RBC announced on Wednesday morning that it was ending its sponsorships with Johnson and McDowell after the two were among players who were leaving the PGA Tour in favor of the LIV Golf league.
“As a result of the decisions made by professional golfers Dustin Johnson and Graeme McDowell to play in the LIV Golf Invitational Series opener, RBC is terminating its sponsorship agreement with both players,” the company said in a statement, via golf reporter Adam Stanley. “We wish them well in their future endeavors.”
The first LIV Golf event is set to take place next week in London, and will be played opposite of the RBC Canadian Open — which is one of two events that RBC sponsors on the PGA Tour. Johnson has played in Saudi Arabia in the past, and won the Saudi Invitational twice, though he didn’t wear the RBC logo on his sleeve while doing so.
Thought this was v interesting re/PGL, from an agent:
“Go look at the pictures of DJ holding the trophy in Saudi Arabia. See if you can find the RBC logo there on his sleeve.”
Left is Saudi trophy ceremony, right is Genesis (his next start). https://t.co/sAmEuRDUy1 pic.twitter.com/Ia7FMZcK9I
— Dan Rapaport (@Daniel_Rapaport) May 5, 2021
Johnson has had a deal with RBC since February 2018, when he was the top-ranked player in the world. He has 24 PGA Tour wins in his career and two major championship wins.
McDowell has won four times on the PGA Tour, including at the 2010 U.S. Open. He last won the 2019 Corales Puntacana Resort & Club Championship.
Johnson has won more than $74 million in earnings on the PGA Tour, which is third all-time behind only Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods. It’s unclear how much he will earn by playing in the LIV Golf league, though The Telegraph reported on Wednesday that he is being paid “around” $125 million to join.