It took longer than expected, but now that a field has been announced for the first LIV Golf Invitational Series event in London, taking place June 9-11, other dominoes will start to fall.
But we still have questions. Lots of them, in fact!
1. What has the PGA Tour said in response?
The Tour has previously declined to grant releases to these events, and ESPN reported that PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan met with several agents at Muirfield Village on Wednesday, host of this week’s Memorial, and reiterated players won’t be allowed to play in both leagues.
The Tour also sent out a brief statement that was shared by Golf Channel’s Rex Hoggard. It read: “As communicated to our entire membership on May 10, PGA Tour members have not been authorized to participate in the Saudi Golf League’s London event, under PGA Tour Tournament Regulations. Members who violate the Tournament Regulations are subject to disciplinary action.”
2. What kind of disciplinary action?
Well, probably a ban.
3. Can the Tour actually, legally, ban players?
Good question. We already explored that in length here, to give you a more complete answer, although LIV Golf CEO Greg Norman argues the Tour cannot do so. What we will likely see is a long, drawn-out legal process.
4. Will LIV Golf players be able to compete in majors?
This is one of the most important questions right now. Because if the organizations that run major championships still allow LIV players to compete in their tournaments, that means players won’t have to stay just on the PGA Tour to gain World Ranking points and entry to majors. Lenience from those bodies would give players, especially those looking for guaranteed money and a lighter schedule, options. It’s all about the majors, we’ve known for some time, and that trend won’t slow.
5. What have those governing bodies said so far?
Here’s a quick rundown:
Augusta National Chairman Fred Ridley, when speaking to the media at the Masters in April, gave somewhat of a non-answer about LIV defectors, but did say “our mission is always to act in the best interests of the game in whatever form that may take. I think that golf’s in a good place right now.”
At the PGA Championship last month, PGA of America CEO Seth Waugh said, “We don’t think this is good for the game and we are supportive of [the current] ecosystem. We have our own bylaws that we will follow towards those fields.” Pressed on if the PGA’s bylaws preclude letting LIV golfers play, he said, “not specifically, but our bylaws do say that you have to be a recognized member of a recognized Tour in order to be a PGA member somewhere, and therefore eligible to play. If that becomes — if something else became one of those — obviously we’d have to recognize it.”
As for the U.S. Open, in a statement to the Golf Channel last week, a USGA official said: “We pride ourselves in being the most open championship in the world, with roughly half our field securing their position via local/regional qualifiers, however we reserve the right, as we always have, to review any competitor’s situation on a case-by-case basis.”
A spokesperson for the R&A, which runs the Open Championship, told GOLF.com on Wednesday that “we haven’t commented on it and don’t plan to as it stands.”
In December, though, the R&A said it would be dropping its Open Championship exemption given to the winner of the Asian Tour’s Order of Merit. That came just months after LIV Golf Investments, backed by Saudi money, announced it committed hundreds of millions of dollars to the Asian Tour.
6. What will happen to the Ryder Cup?
Both the PGA of America and DP World Tour have previously said players who join the rival league would not be allowed in the Ryder Cup. Johnson was 5-0 at Whistling Straits last year and several of Europe’s dominant players from the past two decades — Lee Westwood, Sergio Garcia, Ian Poulter and Graeme McDowell — signed on for the first LIV event.
McDowell was asked about this at an Asian Tour event in England on Wednesday.
“The perceived consequences are definitely concerning,” he said. “But as players, we just ask ourselves the question: If we do get banned from the PGA Tour and the DP World Tour, for example, is that good for the sport of golf? I believe it’s not good for the game and I really feel what the guys at LIV have done is they’ve tried to create a schedule, which especially fits around the PGA Tour.
“It’s designed to co-exist with the other tours in the world and let’s just hope that it all works out,” he continued. “The unknowns are a little scary but I’m sure it’s weighed into the decision of every player that’s decided to take the leap. And we just hope that the right decision will be made.”
7. Where does Phil Mickelson stand in all of this?
It was a slight shock to see Mickelson not mentioned in the field. But only 42 of the 48 entrants were announced. Five of those open spots will be filled by players who qualify from an Asian Tour event. And that leaves one more spot. Who it’s left for is anyone’s guess.
8. Will Mickelson play in any of these LIV events?
Well, there’s obviously a chance he could still take that final LIV spot for London, but you never know, we could also potentially see him in the other upcoming LIV events. But who can predict Mickelson right now?
9. Should we be surprised Dustin Johnson committed to the league?
Probably! Johnson was originally rumored to be interested but was among the pros who stood by the Tour shortly after Mickelson’s viral comments. He’s 37 years old and likely received a nice payday to sign on, but if he never plays another PGA Tour event again he’ll now still bring in a boatload of money and play less often.
Here’s what Johnson said about his future in a November 2020 press conference: “You know, my goal is to play for about, I don’t know, (it) keeps getting shorter, but eight, nine, maybe 10 years, and then hang out with my kids and Paulina.”
10. Will even more big names join the next LIV Golf event?
Potentially, especially because it will be in the U.S. (in Portland, Ore., July 1-3). Seeing a big, established name like DJ commit might help some star players on the fence also join in the future. But that also depends on what kind of ban or fine the PGA Tour dishes out, and what major tournament organizers decide.
11. Will this all be settled soon?