PGA chief slams Saudi-funded league as series of revelations

BROOKLYN, MA (AP) – PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan describes the Saudi-funded league which signed Dustin Johnson, Phil Mickelson and Bryson DeChambeau as a “show game series” spending billions on gamers without getting a return on investment.

Monahan also said the players paid an excessive amount of money “that they will have to live under a rock” without knowing that they would be criticized for the source of the money. LIV Golf is backed by the Saudi Sovereign Wealth Fund.

“I want to ask any player who has left, or any player who has considered leaving, have you ever had to apologize for being a PGA Tour member?” Monahan said from Toronto during the broadcast of the RBC Canadian Open on CBS. .

It was Monahan’s first public comment since Thursday, when Greg Norman’s LIV Golf Series began and Monahan suspended all PGA Tour members who played at Centurion Golf Club. outside London.

The LIV Golf Series offers eight tournaments this year – five in the US – with prize money of $25 million each, 54-hole cupless events and 48-player tournaments. Charles Schwartzell won on the first Saturday, earning $4.75 million.

More than cash prizes, some players received large signing fees. The Daily Telegraph reported that Johnson received $150 million, while Mickelson did not deny a report that he received $200 million for the start. It was not clear for many years that they were committed.

In recent days, Norman Dechambeau announced And Patrick Reed has signed and is expected to play their first US event in Oregon at the end of the month. None of the top 10 players in the world have shown interest in the new league.

Monahan said he suspended the players for violating tournament rules. They were denied release to participate in the London event and chose to play anyway. Typically, players get three copies for overseas events, and 24 players get for the Saudi International.

Monahan said it is a single event linked to a recognized tour (Asian Tour), as opposed to a series of events that pose a direct challenge to the PGA Tour played in the United States.

“My job is to protect, defend and celebrate our loyal members, partners and fans of the PGA Tour, and that’s exactly what I’ve done,” Monahan said.

Norman and a few players at the LIV Golf event talked about being free agents, being able to play wherever they want, and positioning the new league as an addition to world golf rather than competing with the PGA tour to compete.

Johnson, Sergio Garcia and Graeme McDowell were among those who dropped their PGA Tour memberships. Mickelson, who is already at the Country Club on Sunday to begin preparing for the US Open, said he plans to keep the lifetime membership he earned with 45 wins and six majors.

When asked why players cannot play both rounds, Monahan responded with his own question.

“Why do they need us so much? ” He said. “These players chose to sign lucrative multi-year contracts to play a series of exhibition games over and over again against the same players. You look at that compared to what we see here today.

The Canadian Open saw Rory McIlroy, Justin Thomas and Tony Fino compete for the title, and Justin Rose challenged shooting 59 or less until he had to settle for 60.

“You have real, pure competition, the best players in the world are here at the RBC Canadian Open, watched by millions of fans. And in this game, it is the true and pure competition that creates the characteristics and presence of the greatest players in the world. That’s why they need us. Monahan said.

“But we will not allow players to enjoy our loyal members for free.”

We still don’t know how the situation is going. The USGA said it will not reject any player who has earned a spot on the course at the US OpenR&A is likely to respect the “open” nature of next month’s British Open in St Andrews.

Lawsuits are likely if PGA Tour players try to play an event after being suspended for registration and playing with LIV Golf. Norman said LIV Golf would support its players.

Monahan did not say whether there is a path back for players who joined the Norman League, or how it affects players who were never members of the PGA Tour.

Manahan was particularly keen on money from Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund, which has been accused of “sports laundering” for using such a round to distract from its history of human rights abuses.

He was asked about the extent of the problem, which was the source of funding.

“It’s not a problem for me because I’m not working with the Saudi government,” Monahan said, balking at the idea of ​​being a free agent. “But it might be a problem for the players who chose to take that money. I think you have to ask yourself a question: why.

“Why is this group spending so much money — billions of dollars — recruiting players and pursuing a draft where there is no possibility of return?” He said. “At the same time, there were a lot of questions, a lot of comments about the development of the game. And I ask, ‘How useful is it to the game?’ ” »

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