Sergio Garcia has appeared to confirm his departure from the PGA Tour to join the breakaway LIV golf series.
The 2017 Masters champion, 42, was caught on camera at the Wells Fargo Championship on Thursday telling a rules official that he "can't wait to leave" the game’s lead circuit.
Garcia’s comments came as he was looking for a lost ball after sending his drive at the par-5 10th out of bounds. The Spaniard found his ball eventually among the long grass left of the fairway, but was informed by a PGA Tour official that he had taken 90 seconds beyond the three-minute limit permitted to search.
Garcia argued that he had not begun looking for the ball until he reached the area where he knew it landed, with his subsequent frustration then picked up on the television feed.
"I can't wait to leave this tour," Garcia said. "Can't wait to get out of here. Just a couple more weeks until I don't have to deal with you anymore."
Garcia, who went on to par the hole and then sign for a 3-under par 67, did not speak to reporters following his first round. However, his agent later confirmed to the New York Post that the European Ryder Cup star had applied for a release to compete in next month's opening LIV Golf International Series event just outside London.
Garcia, who has 36 professional wins worldwide - 11 have come on the PGA Tour - is reportedly one of 12 players who have requested a release from the PGA Tour to play at Centurion Golf Club from June 9-11.
The Saudi-backed series, which has former world No 1 Greg Norman as its CEO, plans four more events later this year in the United States and is viewed as a significant rival to both the PGA Tour and Europe's DP World Tour.
Six-time major champion Phil Mickelson, three-time European No 1 Lee Westwood, American Robert Garrigus and England's Richard Bland are also publicly known to have applied for a waiver to compete at Centurion. The LIV Golf International Series will offer a $25 million purse per tournament – there are eight events scheduled through until the finale in October – making each more lucrative than any stop on the PGA Tour.