Greg Norman was spruiking having an extra $2.9bn for his rogue tour before a hammer blow.
Just hours after Norman, the chief executive and commissioner of LIV Golf, declared he’d been given an extra $2.9bn to fund events in 2023 and 2024 for the new tour, it emerged that the PGA Tour had told players they would not be released to play in the first $25m event.
Reigning US PGA champion Phil Mickelson and Masters winner Sergio Garcia are among a raft of players who are now facing career-defining decisions having applied to play at Centurion next month, with Garcia overheard saying “I can’t wait to get out of here” at the US PGA Tour’s Wells Fargo Championship last week.
But all PGA Tour members were informed on Tuesday that the required release to play in Norman’s event would not be granted and anyone who chose to play would be subject to disciplinary action.
“We have notified those who have applied that their request has been declined in accordance with the PGA Tour tournament regulations. As such, Tour members are not authorized to participate in the Saudi Golf League’s London event under our regulations,” PGA Tour senior vice president Tyler Dennis wrote to players in the memo.
“As a membership organisation, we believe this decision is in the best interest of the PGA Tour and its players.”
Norman, though, hit back hard, declaring in a statement that his tour “will not be stopped”.
“Sadly, the PGA Tour seems intent on denying professional golfers their right to play golf unless it’s exclusively in a PGA Tour tournament,” he said.
“This is particularly disappointing in light of the Tour’s non-profit status, where its mission is purportedly ‘to promote the common interests of professional tournament golfers’.”
“Instead, the Tour is intent on perpetuating its illegal monopoly of what should be a free and open market.
“The Tour’s action is anti-golfer, anti-fan and anti-competitive. But no matter what obstacles the PGA Tour puts in our way, we will not be stopped. We will continue to give players options that promote the great game of golf globally.”
It’s also been reported that the DP World Tour, formerly the European Tour, also won’t grant the required release for players. That could mean the likes of Garcia and Westwood could be penalised by both should they opt to play.
Those players who have applied to play with Norman, and the Australian legend said he had 19 of the world’s top 100 players, will not be punished for applying, only if they actually tee it up on June 9.
Last week Australian PGA champion Jed Morgan, who has no full-time affiliation with either the PGA Tour or the DP World Tour, declared he would be playing at the London event, where there is a $25m prize pool, including $120,000 for coming last .