PGA Tour suspends all players competing in LIV Golf Invitational Series

Likes of Mickelson and Poulter receive suspensions, while Johnson, Garcia and players who resigned will be ineligible for future tournaments even under sponsor invites

Dustin Johnson and Phil Mickelson on the first tee on the first day of the LIV Golf Invitational Series at Centurion Club. AFP
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The PGA Tour has announced all members competing in the LIV Golf Invitational Series have been suspended, while players who have resigned their membership are no longer eligible to participate in its tournaments.

The news was revealed in the form of an email sent to PGA players from PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan and was made public shortly after the Saudi Arabia-backed LIV Series opener at Centurion Club in St Albans got under way on Thursday.

At present, the players who still have active PGA Tour membership and are playing in the LIV Series are Phil Mickelson, Ian Poulter, Taylor Gooch, Matt Jones, Andy Ogletree, Hudson Swafford, and Peter Uihlein. Meanwhile, Dustin Johnson, Sergio Garcia, Martin Kaymer, Graeme McDowell, Kevin Na, Louis Oosthuizen, Turk Pettit, Charl Schwartzel and Lee Westwood have informed the PGA Tour that they have resigned their membership.

"We have followed the Tournament Regulations from start to finish in responding to those players who have decided to turn their backs on the PGA Tour by wilfully violating a regulation," the email read. "The players are being notified that they are suspended or otherwise no longer eligible to participate in PGA Tour tournament play."

The PGA Tour warned that the same suspensions and ineligibility would apply to any other players planning to join the LIV Series. According to reports, that could include former major winners Bryson DeChambeau and Patrick Reed, and fellow American Rickie Fowler, who this week failed to qualify for the US Open.

"The same fate holds true for any other players who participate in future Saudi Golf League events in violation of our Regulations," the statement continued.

The PGA Tour also confirmed that the players who have resigned will be removed from the FedEx Cup Points List and will "not be permitted to play in PGA Tour tournaments as a non-member via a sponsor exemption or any other eligibility category".

Mickelson, 51, had made it clear on Wednesday that he had no plans to give up his PGA Tour membership. The American earned lifetime membership – awarded to players who have won 20 or more PGA events and played on the tour for more than 15 years – but the PGA Tour's stance has put that status at risk.

The six-time major winner has been at the centre of the continuing tension between the PGA Tour and LIV Golf Series, and in February caused a stir after comments were made public in which he said he was using the new series as leverage against the PGA Tour.

After a four-month self-imposed exile – during which he skipped both the Masters and his PGA Championship title defence – Mickelson confirmed his participation in the LIV Series opener and returned to competitive golf at Centurion on Thursday.

While issuing suspensions to current and future players involved in the LIV Series, the PGA Tour did not address how long those suspensions would last, nor whether these players would have the opportunity to return to the tour.

Lee Westwood is among a host of players to resign from the PGA Tour in order to play in the LIV Golf Series. PA

LIV Golf swiftly issued a statement in response, accusing the PGA Tour of being "vindictive" and accusing the tour of deepening "the divide between the Tour and its members".

"It's troubling that the Tour, an organisation dedicated to creating opportunities for golfers to play the game, is the entity blocking golfers from playing," the statement read.

"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 inaugural LIV Golf Series comprises eight tournaments and combines individual and team formats. At the same time as the tournament at Centurion, the PGA Tour is in Ontario for the Canadian Open.

Updated: June 10, 2022, 9:36 AM
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