Memo: PGA Tour denies releases for LIV event

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6: 42 PM ET

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    Mark SchlabachESPN Senior Writer

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    • Senior college football writer
    • Author of seven books on college football
    • Graduate of the University of Georgia

The PGA Tour has denied releases to the players looking to play in the first event of the Saudi Arabian-financed LIV Golf Invitational Series, according to a memo obtained by ESPN.

The debut tournament, set to take place in London from June 9 to 11, coincides with the PGA Tour’s RBC Canadian Open that week. To compete in the LIV tournament, PGA Tour players will need to be granted a release by the tour.

It was expected that the PGA Tour would grant players releases similar to those it has granted for international events. However, the tour notified its members via a Tuesday memo.

“We have notified all those who applied that their request was declined according to the PGA Tour Tournament Regulations. According to the memo, Tour members are not permitted to participate in the Saudi Golf League London event. “As a membership organisation, we believe that this decision is in both the best interests of the PGA Tour’s players and the PGA Tour. “

In response, LIV Golf CEO Greg Norman issued a statement to multiple media outlets, calling the tour’s decision “anti-golfer, anti-fan, and anti-competitive. ”

“Sadly, the PGA Tour seems intent on denying professional golfers their right to play golf, unless it’s exclusively in a PGA Tour tournament,” he said as part of the statement.

“We will not be stopped, no matter what obstacles are thrown at us by the PGA Tour. We will continue to offer players options that promote the game of golf worldwide. “

Norman told ESPN last week that he had players registered who were willing to challenge the PGA Tour’s position in court.

” I can only speak from information provided by our legal team. We have an extremely talented legal staff in antitrust and anticompetitive laws and we believe that we are in the right place.” Norman stated. “We believe that the players are independent contractors and have the right to play wherever they wish to play. “

The eight-event LIV series will include four tournaments that are played in the United States. It will include seven regular-season events and a team championship match play finale at Trump Doral in Miami from Oct. 28 to 30. The second Saudi event will be held at Pumpkin Ridge Golf Club, Portland, Oregon, July 1-3. May 17 is the deadline for requesting a release from the tour for that event.

It was anticipated that releases might be granted for overseas events, but not for tournaments in the U.S.

“Portland will probably be an interesting beachhead for player releases and those who want to come play,” Norman said last week. It’s going to happen, regardless. Portland will happen. The same goes for Trump Doral, Trump Bedminster, and the International, Rich Harvest Farms. It’s all going down. “

Phil Mickelson is among the players who had sought a release to play in the London event, his longtime agent, Steve Loy of Sportfive, said last month. Longtime PGA Tour members Lee Westwood and Sergio Garcia have also confirmed that they requested releases from the tour.

Norman told ESPN last week that more than 200 players had registered for the first event, including about 15 of the top 100 in the Official World Golf Ranking. Norman stated that he had tried to get involved with the PGA Tour but Monahan was not willing to do so.

“The PGA Tour is wrong to claim that we are a breakaway league,” Norman stated. “We are not a breakaway tour. We are an additive to the game of golf. To make this animus against [is wrong]. It also goes to other institutions. Don’t target me because I’m fortunate and blessed enough to be the CEO for this opportunity to grow the game. That’s crazy. “

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