LIV Golf controversy

Rebels face wait for St Andrews green light

Phil Mickelson: payday

Pressure is growing on the R&A and DP World Tour to make clear their position on the LIV Golf Tour rebels as the game plunges into a damaging civil war.

Minutes after the first tee shots were struck at the controversial Saudi Arabia-funded LIV Golf Invitational Series in St Albans, the PGA Tour in America announced it was suspending all 17 of those involved at the Corinthian Club for playing without releases.

Phil Mickelson, Dustin Johnson, Sergio Garcia, Ian Poulter, Lee Westwood and Graeme McDowell are among a host of stars playing this week who now find themselves banned from competing in any PGA Tour-sanctioned tournaments.

With four-time Major winner Rory McIlroy applauding the decision of PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan to discipline the rebels, all eyes are now on the DP World Tour, formerly the European Tour, and the R&A, to see what their viewpoints are, particularly with the 150th Open Championship being staged at St Andrews next month.

Former Masters champion Garcia said: “Obviously we’re going to have to wait and see what the European Tour does. But I definitely would like to keep my membership there, play at least my minimum (number of events) and get as good a chance as I can to make the Ryder Cup team because I love that event.”

McIlroy, competing at the Canadian Open in Toronto, said: “I think at this point, Jay’s been pretty transparent in terms of he’s just going to act within the tournament regulations and the rules that are set for a PGA Tour member,” said the Northern Irishman.

“All he’s doing is basically going by the book. I think the majority of the membership that are here (in Canada) and that haven’t gone and played elsewhere really appreciate that.

“So I think he’s done the right thing because these guys have broken rules and done things outside of the tournament regulations, and because of that, there are going to be consequences.”

Monahan’s statement in letter to members said: “In accordance with the PGA Tour’s Tournament Regulations, the players competing this week without releases are suspended or otherwise no longer eligible to participate in PGA Tour tournament play, including the Presidents Cup.

Appeal: Ian Poulter

“This also applies to all tours sanctioned by the PGA Tour: the Korn Ferry Tour, PGA Tour Champions, PGA Tour Canada and PGA Tour Latinoamerica.

“Their participation in the Saudi Golf League/LIV Golf event is in violation of our Tournament Regulations. The same fate holds true for any other players who participate in future Saudi Golf League events in violation of our Regulations.

“These players have made their choice for their own financial-based reasons. But they can’t demand the same PGA Tour membership benefits, considerations, opportunities and platform as you. That expectation disrespects you, our fans and our partners.”

Poulter has already said he is challenging the decision, and it seems there could be as much action in the courtroom as on the course in the coming days.

The players, who regard themselves as independent contractors who should be able to play wherever they wish, are being given obscene amounts of money to join the Saudi-backed LIV tour, Mickelson reported to be pocketing $200m and Johnson $160m for joining the series which is being bankrolled to the tune of £1.6bn by Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF).

The eight planned events will see a total of $255m up for grabs, the winner in each tournament landing $4m and the last-place finisher taking home $120,000.

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