PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan stresses that players who have signed up to the LIV Golf Invitational Series won’t be allowed to ‘freeride’
- Jay Monahan says players will not be able to ‘freeride’ off the PGA Tour
- Monahan was critical of the players that have signed up to the LIV Series
- The commissioner said the best players in the game were competing in Canada
Players who have joined the Saudi-backed LIV Golf Invitational Series will not be allowed to ‘freeride’ off the PGA Tour, commissioner Jay Monahan said on Sunday.
Monahan spoke to CBS host Jim Nantz during the network’s coverage of the final round of the RBC Canadian Open, three days after suspending PGA Tour members who teed off in the inaugural LIV Golf event at Centurion Club, 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 multi-year 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’.
He added: ‘In protecting our loyal members, we can’t allow (LIV Golf) players to freeride off that.’
Monahan was also asked about the letter sent by a group representing victims’ families and survivors of the 2001 terrorist attacks in the United States to representatives of Phil Mickelson, Dustin Johnson, Bryson DeChambeau, Patrick Reed and Kevin Na.
Commissioner Jay Monahan says players who have joined the LIV Golf Invitational Series cannot ‘freeride’ off the PGA Tour
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?’
Some sponsors associated with golfers involved in the Saudi-funded LIV Golf events are monitoring the fallout from the controversial series to assess whether they might cut ties with some players.
Star names such as Phil Mickelson have already lost endorsement deals for signing up to LIV
Star names including Phil Mickelson, Dustin Johnson and Graeme McDowell have all already lost endorsement deals for signing-up to LIV, which is funded by Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund, chaired by Mohammad bin Salman.
MBS has been implicated by intelligence agencies in the 2018 murder and dismemberment of Jamal Khashoggi, and Saudi Arabia has been widely criticised by human rights groups for their lack of democracy, use of the death penalty, and treatment of women and the LGBT community.
WHAT IS THE LIV GOLF SERIES?
The LIV Golf Series is backed by Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund.
The total purse for this week is $25million (£20.3million)
48 players have signed up the competition, including prominent names such as Phil Mickelson, Dustin Johnson, Graeme McDowell, Lee Westwood, Sergio Garcia, Bryson De Chambeau, Louis Oosthuizen and Ian Poulter
On June 4, Kevin Na became the first member of the PGA Tour to resign to participate in LIV Golf
Dustin Johnson has been paid $150million (£121.8million) to sign up for the tournament
The IOC don’t have any plans to ban the Saudi tour golf rebels from competing at the Olympics
Many of the players at this week’s LIV event have been derided for, in effect, becoming poster boys for Saudi Arabia, having pocketed massive sums to play and publicise LIV.
Mickelson has been paid $200m to sign up, and Johnson $150m, while others have been guaranteed tens of millions, before any prize money.
The IOC have no plans to ban the Saudi tour golf rebels from competing at the Olympics in another sign of the division that has gripped the sport.
Former Masters champion Patrick Reed is among those to have signed up for the tournament
The PGA Tour have handed out indefinite suspensions to 17 golfers who are taking part in the inaugural event of the LIV Series at the Centurion Club this week, although many are expected to appeal.
The DP World Tour – formerly the European Tour – have yet to announce whether they will sanction players who have signed up to the Saudi Arabia-funded tour, but the PGA appear unlikely to get support from other sporting bodies.
Sportsmail has learned that the IOC regard the issue as a private dispute between rival golf tours battling for commercial ascendency and have no plans to get involved.