Unlike Bryson DeChambeau, who recently stated that he was not enticed by LIV Golf before joining the Saudi-backed tour this week, PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan stood by his word.
Monahan ignored any insignificant fines and did what he needed to do: protect his tour and back up his recent statements.
Monahan sent a memo to those who “decided to turn their backs on the PGA Tour” on Thursday, notifying them that they “are suspended or otherwise no longer eligible to participate in PGA Tour tournament play, including the Presidents Cup.”
So, in addition to those who were proactive and had already resigned from the tour — including Jupiter’s Dustin Johnson, Palm Beach Gardens’ Charl Schwartzel, and Sergio Garcia — Monahan barred such defectors as Phil Mickelson, Ian Poulter, Lee Westwood, and Jupiter’s Peter Uihlein.
DeChambeau and Patrick Reed, who announced their intentions this week, are expected to compete in LIV’s next event in Portland, Oregon, from June 30 to July 2.
Monahan’s memo was sent as the first event in the LIV Golf Invitational Series, which is funded by Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund, began on Thursday in London.
Monahan’s decision is supported by two of the sport’s biggest names, Justin Thomas and Rory McIlroy, both of whom live in Jupiter. Speaking from the Canadian Open, Thomas stated that he is “pleased” with the ban and that anyone who is “shocked” by it has not been listening to Monahan’s message. “I think the majority of the membership that are here this week and haven’t gone and played elsewhere really appreciate that,” McIlroy added. So I believe he did the right thing.”
None of this should come as a surprise to those looking for a quick buck. Every player, from Mickelson, who reportedly received a $200 million signing bonus, to the golfer who finished last in London this week and received a $120,000 bonus, knew that joining LIV meant accepting the consequences and a hit to their reputations.
They simply decided that money is more important. Monahan’s ban extends to all PGA Tour sanctioned tours, including Korn Ferry, Tour Champions, Tour Canada, and Tour Latinoamerica. Chase Koepka of West Palm Beach joined LIV after failing to gain PGA Tour membership for six years. This year, Koepka has earned $8,500 from 11 events on the Canada, Korn Ferry, and Latinoamerica tours.
For those like Koepka and other struggling golfers who joined LIV, the money grab outweighs the consequences and any impact on an otherwise unremarkable career.
For players like Thomas and McIlroy, as well as Chase’s more successful brother, Brooks, their devotion to the PGA Tour outweighs any financial gain from LIV. And those meetings with financial advisers, sponsors, and agents must have been intense for many. One of them, Jupiter’s Rickie Fowler, is adamant about joining LIV.
Because his game has fallen off a cliff in recent years, Fowler, 33, appears to be a prime candidate to join LIV. He hasn’t won a tournament in three years and has only one top-three finish in that time, missing nearly 40% of the cuts.
Fowler’s world ranking of 145 is the lowest it has been in over a decade. He is an alternate for next week’s U.S. Open, which allows LIV tour golfers to compete, after failing to qualify for the second year in a row.
On Monday, Fowler reiterated his desire to continue playing on the PGA Tour but did not rule out joining LIV.
“My plans are to continue playing the PGA Tour right now,” he told Golf Channel. “But I also do think competition is a good thing, always has been. LIV is definitely interesting and intriguing and it’s worth looking at. But, no, I haven’t made any decisions on that and it’s going to be interesting to see kind of how everything continues to play out.”
Fowler, like Mickelson, DJ, Garcia, and a few others, must consider the consequences of sponsorship. Fowler has had strong relationships with sponsors such as Rocket Mortgage and Farmers Insurance, and it’s likely that he’s earned more money from sponsors than he has on the course.
Fowler would be a good fit for LIV because his popularity has held up despite his declining game. But, for Fowler, who is still making good money, is the backlash worth it?