PGA Tour responds to players joining LIV Golf as ‘disappointed’ RBC drops Dustin Johnson, Graeme McDowell

The LIV Golf Invitational Series has a field (or most of one) and is set to kick off next week at the Centurion Club in London with its inaugural event. Seven more golfers are expected to follow as the richest golf league in history gets underway. Included in that field are Dustin Johnson, Talor Gooch, Louis Oosthuizen, Kevin Na and Hudson Swafford. All are PGA Tour members, and all were denied requests by the PGA Tour to participate in the league.

The PGA Tour issued a brief statement lacking much specificity Wednesday about the decision by these golfers to tee it up at the Centurion Club and presumably participate in the LIV Golf league going forward. Commissioner Jay Monahan has been resolute about his league’s maintenance of him as the top tour in the world and is excited about its future.

“As communicated to our membership on May 10, PGA Tour members have not been authorized to participate in the Saudi Golf League’s London event, under PGA Tour regulations,” the statement read. “Members who violate the tournament regulations are subject to disciplinary action.”

It’s unclear what this disciplinary action might be, but it is presumed that a suspension or possible ban would be applied to anyone who chooses to go through with playing in the London event. Committed players will need to be all-in regardless of what the PGA Tour decides because their sponsors will be dropping them for joining a league backed by the Saudi Arabian government.

Shortly after it was disclosed that Johnson was headed to the LIV Golf event, long-time sponsor RBC decided to cut ties with him. Doubly embarrassing for everyone involved is that the RBC Canadian Open, an event in which DJ normally plays, will take place the week of the first LIV Golf event in London.

“RBC is a proud partner of the PGA Tour. Our partnership is anchored with two world-class golf tournaments – the RBC Heritage and the RBC Canadian Open. The PGA Tour has been clear about its intentions in accordance with its tournament regulations should a golfer choose to play in a tournament outside the Tour, including the LIV Golf Invitational series, “the RBC said Tuesday. “We were recently made aware that Dustin Johnson made the decision to play the LIV Golf Invitational series opener. DJ has been a valued RBC team member since 2019. While we are extremely disappointed in his decision of him, we wish him well.”

The RBC provided a more definitive statement Wednesday, officially cutting ties with Johnson and Graeme McDowell.

“As a result of the decisions made by professional golfers Dustin Johnson and Graeme McDowell to play the LIV Golf Invitational Series opener, RBC is terminating its sponsorship agreement with both players,” the company said in a statement. “We wish them well in their future endeavors.”

PGA Tour member Rory McIlroy rode for both the PGA Tour and the Canadian Open, where he will be defending his 2019 crown (no tournament was played in 2020 or 2021) next week.

“I’d say indifferent [to the LIV Golf field] is probably the way I would describe it, “said McIlroy.” A couple of surprises in there I think. I certainly don’t think [the PGA Tour] should drop the hammer [to prevent players from going in the future]. Look, they are well within their rights to enforce the rules and regulations that have been set. It’s going to end up being an argument about what those rules and regulations are.

“Look, I have some very close friends that are playing in this event in London, and I certainly wouldn’t want to stand in their way to, for them to do what they feel is right for themselves,” he continued. “It’s not something that I would do personally, but I certainly understand why some of the guys have went, and it’s something that we are all just going to keep an eye on and see what happens over these next few weeks. I certainly don ‘ t think the field is anything to jump up and down about. Look the field this week. Look at the field next week in Canada. They are proper golf tournaments. “

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