LIV Series: PGA chief Jay Monahan has come down hard, but Greg Norman appears the vindictive one
The gloves are well and truly off. Make no mistake, the PGA Tour’s unprecedented statement, indefinitely suspending their 17 members participating in the LIV series event in St Albans, marks the opening salvo in a battle for the soul and future of professional golf for men.
Keep in mind that the PGA Tour is an organization so secretive that they had never previously revealed the name of anyone who was suspended regardless of the offense.
Now, in a document filled with righteous wrath, the rebels who have been exiled are not only mentioned, but shamed by their actions.
The gloves are off between Jay Monahan’s (left) PGA Tour and Greg Norman’s (right) LIV Series
Dustin Johnson (left) and Phil Mickelson (right) are among those who have joined LIV Golf
A PGA Tour letter bomb announced that all defecting members of the rebellious Saudi Invitational series have been suspended, in a huge shock to golf’s biggest names
“They have decided to turn their backs on the PGA Tour by willfully violating regulations,” said commissioner Jay Monahan, furiously.
Nor will there be a back door to act in a strange way through a sponsorship waiver. In a stark statement to all PGA Tour members, Monahan said: “These players made their choice for their own financial reasons.
“They can’t demand the same PGA Tour membership benefits, considerations, opportunities and platform as you. That expectation does not respect you, our fans and our partners.’
Monahan accused players of ‘deliberately breaking regulations’ by joining Saudi breakout
Monahan was expected to take a hard line once the LIV action kicked off, but few expected it to be this strong. It is clearly a reaction to the drip, drip effect of the last few days as more players with personality like Patrick Reed and Rickie Fowler expressed their intent to join the Rebels.
He clearly hopes this will turn the tide, but it’s hard to argue against wave after wave of dollars and an adversary with boundless wealth.
Monahan even poses the question on everyone’s lips: what now? Unfortunately he doesn’t answer. But we can rest assured that the DP World Tour, their strategic alliance partner, will follow a similar hard line. They really have no choice.
So it’s goodbye to touring life for people like 25-year-old Sam Horsfield and 49-year-old Richard Bland. The end of the Ryder Cup careers and any future captaincy prospects for the likes of Lee Westwood, Sergio Garcia, Ian Poulter and Graeme McDowell.
Sam Horsfield (left) and Richard Bland (right) could be banned from DP World Tour
There is only one way this will change and that is through the courts. Will the justice system join the LIV rebels’ argument that they are independent contractors and should be able to play wherever they want?
Or the PGA Tour, which cites their own rules written by their own members stating that they cannot play in conflicting events without the required releases?
Rest assured that the Saudis will throw a few more million dollars on the fire to fuel such a lawsuit.
Where do the four majors, all run by separate organizations, stand in all of this? You better ask. Rightly so, the eligible rebels will be able to play in the US Open next week and the 150th Open next month. The rules were written long before anyone put a tee pin in the ground at Centurion and those who met the criteria should be allowed to play.
Ian Poulter is one of the European legends who could see their Ryder Cup career come to an end
But what will happen next year? The four bodies may be glad it’s still a long nine months before the Masters. Perhaps by then the inevitable lawsuit between the PGA Tour and LIV will have run its course, we’ll have an idea of what the future holds and they can write their rules accordingly.
LIV, for their part, released a statement of their own calling the PGA Tour’s actions “vengeful and disturbing,” rather ironically from an organization that appears to be motivated by both.
Would Greg Norman, the face of the Saudi wave, care about this if he had won a couple of US majors and hadn’t been snubbed by the PGA Tour all those years ago when he attempted a worldwide tour of his own?
Former player Norman is the face of the Saudi golf breakaway league
Would the Saudis flex their financial muscles to this extent if the DP World Tour had sided with them instead of the PGA Tour when they called in a few years ago?
What an ugly landscape it all leaves behind, a landscape that will disfigure the sport for years to come. What are the big corporations thinking, all those blue-chip sponsors who love the game more than any other sport, precisely because it’s mostly mostly hostility and controversy?
What about the average fan, who peeks in from the outside and sees very wealthy contestants consumed by the idea of getting even richer? Can you think of a bigger turnoff than that?
It was Paul McGinley on these pages a year ago who predicted that golf was going to be a rough ride and that it would soon be time to put on tin hats. Clearly, and in no uncertain terms, that time has come.