“As communicated to our entire membership on May 10,” the tour said in a statement. “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.”
The next step in the clash may be in court. PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan has insisted that the tour’s lawyers believe any discipline handed to golfers who play for the rival tour will withstand legal scrutiny.
Johnson, a two-time major winner who has accumulated more than $74 million in career earnings from the PGA Tour, said in February that he was “fully committed to the PGA Tour.” It was a sentiment echoed by every player in the top 10, and each of the leading golfers in a younger cohort that has dominated the PGA Tour in the last two seasons.
Rory McIlroy, the four-time major champion, called the new rival league “dead in the water.”
Johnson’s agent, David Winkle, issued a statement on Tuesday night: “Dustin has been contemplating this opportunity off-and-on for the past couple of years. Ultimately, he decided it was in his and his family’s best interest to pursue it. Dustin has never had any issue with the PGA Tour and is grateful for all it has given him, but in the end felt this was too compelling to pass up.”
“Free agency has finally come to golf,” Norman said in a statement. “This is an opportunity to start a movement that will change the course of history by bringing new and open competition to the sport we all love. The desire shown by the players to participate in LIV Golf demonstrates their emphatic belief in our model and confidence in what we’re building for the future.”
The LIV Golf series includes eight events from June to October, including one in Thailand and five in the United States. In late July, the host site will be the Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, N.J.
Saudi Arabia’s role in the new tour has already caused controversy. Mickelson set off a hailstorm of criticism in February after he acknowledged Saudi Arabia had a “horrible record on human rights” — including the murder of a Washington Post journalist — but said he viewed the new tour as a “once-in-a-lifetime opportunity” to apply pressure on the PGA Tour to increase player revenues. Mickelson later said his remarks had been “reckless.”