Phil Mickelson, Dustin Johnson, and Sergio Garcia are among 17 golfers who have been suspended from the PGA Tour due to their involvement with LIV Golf, a new Saudi Arabian-backed competition. PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan sent a memo to the players competing in the tour’s debut tournament in St. Albans, England, that they were no longer allowed to compete on the PGA Tour, including the Presidents Cup.
Monahan stated, “These players have made their choice for their own financial-based reasons. But they can’t demand the same PGA TOUR membership benefits, considerations, opportunities and platform as you. That expectation disrespects you, our fans and our partners.”
Talor Gooch, Branden Grace, Matt Jones, Martin Kaymer, Graeme McDowell, Kevin Na, Andy Ogletree, Louis Oosthuizen, Turk Pettit, Ian Poulter, Charl Schwartzel, Hudson Swafford, Peter Uihlein, and Lee Westwood were among the players suspended in addition to Mickelson, Johnson, and Garcia. However, several of them had already resigned from the PGA Tour.
LIV Golf, which is directed by Australian golf great Greg Norman and backed by Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth, called the PGA tour’s decision vindictive. LIV stated, “It’s troubling that the tour, an organization dedicated to creating opportunities for golfers to play the game, is the entity blocking golfers from playing. This certainly is not the last word on this topic. The era of free agency is beginning as we are proud to have a full field of players joining us in London, and beyond.” The players will still be able to compete in the upcoming U.S. Open because the PGA Tour does not oversee golf’s major tournaments.
The Saudi league has been a source of controversy since its inception, with accusations of sports-washing. Meanwhile, Mickelson took a break from golf in January after receiving blowback for remarks he made in which he acknowledged Saudi Arabia’s history of human rights violations but he refused to pull out of the Saudi-backed tour because it was a “once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”