PGA suspends Phil Mickelson and others for involvement in Saudi-backed LIV event

PGA suspends Phil Mickelson and others for involvement in Saudi-backed LIV event

Phil Mickelson plays the 18 during the Pro-Am at Centurion Club, Hertfordshire, ahead of the LIV Golf Invitational Series.

Steven Paston | Pictures PA | Getty Images

The PGA Tour has suspended 17 golfers, including major championship winners Phil Mickelson and Dustin Johnson, who are competing at the Saudi-backed LIV golf event near London on Thursday. Suspensions are indefinite.

The players “did not receive the necessary conflicting event and media rights release – or did not request a release at all,” according to an internal PGA memo. The PGA will also suspend all future tour players who play in LIV events, the memo dated Thursday said.

“These players made their choice for their own financial reasons,” the memo reads. “But they can’t demand the same PGA TOUR membership benefits, considerations, opportunities and platform that you do.”

Mickelson has been a major scout for LIV Golf, which is primarily funded by the Saudi Public Investment Fund. He hasn’t played in a golf tournament since February. His deal with LIV is said to be worth around $200 million.

Greg Norman, another former PGA star, is the CEO of LIV Golf Investments. Norman, Mickelson and others have been criticized for siding with the company despite past human rights abuses by the Saudi government, including its involvement in the murder of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi.

Mickelson did not immediately respond to a CNBC request for comment. Johnson said he had no comment.

LIV Golf in a statement called the decision “vindictive” and said it “deepens the rift between the Tour and its members.”

“It is troubling that the Tour, an organization dedicated to creating opportunities for golfers to play the game, is the entity keeping golfers from playing. It is certainly not the final word on this subject. he era of free agency begins as we are proud to have a full group of players joining us in London and beyond,” the organization said.

The LIV event in England is the first of eight scheduled tournaments. Five of them are planned for the United States, including two on courses owned by former President Donald Trump.

Here is the list of players. Asterisks indicate players who have already told the PGA they are resigning their membership.

  • Sergio Garcia*
  • Talor Gooch
  • Branden Grace*
  • Dustin Johnson*
  • matt jones
  • Martin Kaymer*
  • Graeme McDowell*
  • Phil Mickelson
  • Kevin Na*
  • Andy Ogletree
  • Louis Oosthuizen*
  • Turkish Pettit*
  • Ian Poulter
  • Charles Schwartzel*
  • Hudson Swafford
  • Peter Uihlein
  • Lee Westwood*

This is a developing story. Check back for updates.

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