USA TODAY International Edition

PGA Tour denies golfers permission to play Saudi- funded event

- Eamon Lynch

The PGA Tour has denied its members permission to play in the Saudifunde­d golf tournament in London next month. The denials were sent to players who had sought permission late Tuesday afternoon.

It had been expected that the PGA Tour would grant waivers for the LIV Golf Invitation­al near London because of a precedent allowing players limited releases for overseas events. ( Members are required to seek a conflicting event release to compete in non- Tour events.)

However, it is thought the decision is based on a belief the event in the U. K. is effectively part of a rival series. LIV Golf, which is funded by the Saudi Arabian regime, has announced a schedule of eight tournament­s – the second of which is due to be played July 1- 3 in Portland, Oregon.

A PGA Tour spokespers­on declined to confirm details on what was communicat­ed to members on the releases.

Among those who have acknowledg­ed applying for permission to play the tournament – which has a $ 25 million purse – are Sergio Garcia and Lee Westwood. Players who defy the Tour and play without a green light would be subject to disciplina­ry action. It is unclear if any player will choose to do that, or if anyone will try to litigate the Tour’s right to influence his schedule.

The LIV Golf Invitation­al is scheduled for June 9- 11 at Centurion Golf Club outside of London, with a 48- man field competing for a $ 20 million purse. The winner gets $ 4 million – to date the richest prize in golf.

One player, who spoke with Golfweek under the condition of anonymity, said he has since been monitoring the reaction of PGA Tour Commission­er Jay Monahan. “I’m for sure weighing up the pros and cons of making a jump like this,” the player said. “What Jay decides is a hugely important part of that. Asking permission to play an internatio­nal ‘ tour’ event is something I’ve done with the PGA Tour since I first took my card many years ago. I understand the initial construct of this LIV tour was destructiv­e in nature if the PGA Tour didn’t want part of it. Here in the short term, the events are being scheduled to be as non- conflicting as possible. ... As a player who plays multiple tours, conflicting events is something we always deal with and I don’t see how the LIV tour is any different until it’s 48 guys locked in for 14 events a season.”

Next Tuesday is the deadline by which players must request waivers to compete in the second Saudi event, which will be held July 1- 3 at Pumpkin Ridge Golf Club in Portland. PGA Tour policy does not permit releases to be granted for events played against its own schedule in North America, so no applicatio­ns for that tournament were expected to be granted.

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