PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan says players who have joined the Saudi-backed LIV Golf Invitational Series will not be allowed to “free ride”.
Monahan spoke to CBS during the network’s coverage of the final round of the Canadian Open on Sunday, three days after suspending PGA Tour members who teed off in the inaugural LIV Golf event at Centurion Club in London, despite having been refused permission.
Asked why players could not do both, Monahan said: “I guess I would answer the question by asking a question — ‘Why do they need us so badly?’
“Those players have chosen to sign multiyear lucrative contracts to play in a series of exhibition matches against the same players over and over again.”
Monahan said that the best players in the game were competing in Canada and that “true competition creates the profile of the world’s greatest players”.
“In protecting our loyal members, we can’t allow [LIV Golf] players to free ride off that,” he said.
Monahan was also asked about the letter sent by a group representing victims’ families and survivors of the 2001 terrorist attacks in the US to representatives of Phil Mickelson, Dustin Johnson, Bryson DeChambeau, Patrick Reed and Kevin Na.
The letter accuses the players of sportswashing and betraying their country, highlighting that “Osama bin Laden and 15 of the 19 September 11 hijackers were Saudis.”
“I think you’d have to be living under a rock to not know there are significant implications. Two families close to me lost loved ones,” Monahan said.
“I would ask any player that has left, or any player that would ever consider leaving, have you ever had to apologise for being a member of the PGA Tour?”
Monahan said the players had been paid an exorbitant amount of money – and had to have known they’d be criticised for the source of it.
The LIV Golf Series has eight tournaments in 2022, including five in the US. There is $35 million in prizemoney for each of the 54-hole events with no cut and 48-man fields.
Some players have also received huge sign-on fees. Mickelson has not denied reports he received $US200 million ($283 million).
Australian golfing legend Greg Norman is the series’ chief executive and commissioner of LIV Golf. Last month, he caused a storm when he brushed off the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi’ as a “mistake”.
Khashoggi, a Washington Post columnist who had written critically about Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, was hacked to death inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul in 2018. His remains have never been found.