Phil Mickelson, LIV Golf players suspended by PGA after entering Saudi-backed tour

Phil Mickelson, LIV Golf players suspended by PGA after entering Saudi-backed tour
PGA Tour Suspending Players Who Compete In New Saudi-Backed Tour

17 professional golfers associated with the PGA Tour have been suspended from participating in future tournaments after competing in the Saudi-funded LIV Golf Series.

Among the 17 golfers are Phil Mickelson, Dustin Johnson, Sergio Garcia, and Louis Oosthuizen.

On Thursday, the PGA released a statement just 30 minutes after the LIV Golf invitational began in London indicating that several PGA members had been suspended for violating PGA Tournament Regulations.

In the statement, the PGA said all players who participated in the LIV Golf event will no longer be eligible to participate in PGA tournaments regardless of membership status. Even players who resigned their membership will not be allowed to play via a sponsor.

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Regulations state that "no PGA TOUR Champions member shall participate in any other golf event on a date when a PGA TOUR Champions cosponsored tournament for which such member is exempt is scheduled, except as follows: (a) An event for which a member obtains an advance written release for his participation from the Commissioner."

In their statement, the PGA said none of the players were granted releases. Back in May players' did submit requests for conflicting-event releases but were denied.

The LIV Golf Series is a new controversial golf league financed by Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund. With a clear tie to the Saudi Arabia regime, many felt the golf series came with ethical implications since the Saudi Arabian government has faced several human rights violations from Amnesty International and the Humans Rights Watch.

In response to PGA's announcement, LIV Golf released a statement calling the decision "vindictive" and "deepens the divide between the Tour and its members."

"It's troubling that the Tour, an organization dedicated to creating opportunities for golfers to play the game is the entity blocking golfers from playing," the statement added.

Players competing in the LIV Golf event are looking at a $25 million (£20m) prize fund, the highest reward given at any golf tournament.

“These players have made their choice for their own financial-based reasons,” PGA Commissioner Jay Monahan wrote to TOUR's members. “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.”

In response to the suspension, Irish golfer Rory McIlroy told the press he understood why players decided to join the LIV Golf Series but added that "any decision that you make in your life that’s purely for money usually doesn’t end up going the right way."

“I'm pleased,” Justin Thomas said, "I think anybody that's shocked clearly hasn't been listening to the message that Jay and everybody's been putting out. (Players) took that risk going into it, whether they thought it was a risk or not."

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