AL MUROOJ, SAUDI ARABIA - FEBRUARY 01: Phil Mickelson of The USA during a practice round prior to the PIF Saudi International at Royal Greens Golf & Country Club on February 01, 2022 in Al Murooj, Saudi Arabia. (Photo by Oisin Keniry/Getty Images)
Golf

Should I Stay Or Should I Go? PGA Tour Stars Face Choice After Exemption Denial

A large number of players on the PGA Tour had asked for an conflicting events exemption from the RBC Canadian Open, which takes place in Ontario between June 9th and 11th.

Their aim was to compete in the inaugural LIV Golf Invitational Series tournament for a huge $25 million prize pool in London.

However, PGA Tour chief Jay Monaghan has scuppered those plans by sending out a memo to players that had asked for a release, denying them the chance to do so and meaning that if a player does compete in the event in London, they could be sanctioned by the PGA Tour for playing.

That means that players that had requested an exemption now have two choices. Firstly, they can abandon ideas to play in the LIV’s opening event and instead head to Ontario, or they can ignore the memo from the PGA Tour and take whatever punishment the PGA Tour deems fit to hand out.

Monaghan has in the past suggested this could result in as severe a penalty as a lifetime ban from the tour for those players who competed in LIV Golf tournaments.

Unequivocal Support From Established PGA Tour Pros

The stance taken by the PGA Tour has drawn unequivocal support from a number of players

“Augusta National Golf Club” by danperry.com is marked with CC BY 2.0.

who have been vocal in their support for the tour and against the LIV series of tournaments.

Justin Thomas has already indicated his support for the potential sanctions’ players face should they head to London to compete in the event, commenting:

I would hope it would deter them from going over there.”

He stated that the PGA Tour had “made it very clear from the start of what would would happen. I think a lot of people are probably like “I can’t believe you did this’ or ‘Wow, you went through with it”. But this is what he said was going to happen all along.”

“And, yeah, it’s one of those things to where he just doesn’t want the competing tour, the back-and-forth.”

Sergio Garcia, Phil Mickelson and Lee Westwood are just three of the players on the PGA Tour who had requested a release, but there are thought to be many more players, including 15 of the top 100 ranked players in the world, that have also requested the same.

“It’s like, ‘Look, if you want to go, go” stated Thomas.

“There’s been plenty of guys that have been advocates of it and have just talked it up all the time and there have been guys behind the scenes that are saying, ‘I’m going, I’m doing this.” And like my whole thing is, like, just go then.”

“Everybody’s entitled to do what they want; you know what I mean? Like if I wanted to go play that your, I could go play that tour. But I’m loyal to the PGA Tour, and I’ve said that.”

Current World Number 1 Scottie Scheffler also felt the move was a fair one from his tour.

AUGUSTA, GEORGIA – APRIL 10: Scottie Scheffler poses with the Masters trophy during the Green Jacket Ceremony after winning the Masters at Augusta National Golf Club on April 10, 2022 in Augusta, Georgia. (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)

“If you’re playing here on the PGA Tour, playing in something that could be a rival series to the PGA Tour, being a member of our tour, it’s definitely not something where we want our membership to do because it’s going to harm the tournament we have opposite that.”

28th ranked Will Zalatoris also felt the decision was a fair one, calling it a “perfect response” and adding:

“The tour is in the best spot it’s ever been, it’s only going to get better, and why would we encourage our players to get releases for those events when essentially we have all these sponsors that are involved with the tour and only making it better and better?”

“You shouldn’t have it both ways. You have a choice. You really do. You can go if you’d like, but it is what it is.”

Rebel Golfers Choices?

So what do the rebel golfers on the PGA Tour do next? There is always the option, as the PGA professionals listed above have said, to just leave and go all-in with the LIV Tour and its plans for development over the next few years.

However, with just 10 events planned for the year, even with those big prize pools, it would leave a lot of free weekends for these top professionals.

Others could elect to play the LIV tournament and challenge the PGA Tour’s decision in court. There is a belief that the PGA Tour’s stance could effectively breach work legislation.

Some may decide the risk is not worth it and stay on the PGA Tour.

Whatever the decision, it looks like being an intriguing next few weeks in the world of golf and a period of time which may shape the future of the game for the next decade and more.

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