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PGA punishes players gone to LIV; local golfers react


Dustin Johnson and Phil Mickelson threw tee shots in the Saudi-funded golf league on Thursday, and it wasn’t long before the PGA Tour declared its players who participated were no longer welcome , even though they had already resigned.

PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan has held a tough line on his promise that players can choose one tour or the other, but not both.

Those who had resigned from the PGA Tour – Graeme McDowell said he did so 30 minutes before he left – were no longer eligible on any PGA Tour circuit. Those who remained members, like Mickelson, were suspended.

“These players made their choice or their own financial reasons, Monahan said in a note to his members. “But they can’t demand the same benefits, considerations, opportunities and platform as PGA Tour members.”

Ian Poulter has said he will appeal the decision. McDowell said he wanted to “keep the moral high” by stepping down to try to keep litigation to a minimum. He thinks suspensions are a healthy way to do business.

Mickelson had nothing to say except that he wouldn’t talk about the PGA Tour in his first tournament in four months, only to confirm that he’ll be playing all eight LIV events, five of which will be in the United States. United.

When told that people were interested in his situation, Mickelson replied, “I’m very flattered that so many people are interested.”

Glen Millican, the University of New Mexico men’s coach, is among many interested in Albuquerque.

“This new golf league has certainly shaken things up,” Millican said by phone from Arizona, where he’s monitoring a youth event. “Everyone is talking about golf now – even the casual fan.”

On Thursday, several golfers at Arroyo del Oso Golf Course were talking about the actions of the PGA Tour toward LIV players.

“I thought it was tough,” Rio Rancho resident Gilbert Espinosa said of the suspensions. “I think it was an overreaction. The PGA Tour has never been challenged before. Now there is someone who gave the opportunity to play, and I have no problem with that. I know that “There are political issues with the Saudis, but I don’t know if you want to drag politics into sports. I still think they should try to keep them separate.

It remains to be determined whether these players will be welcome. For now, Monahan clarified that the suspensions include the Presidents Cup – the international team (countries outside of Europe) is determined by world ranking.

Monahan said players who have resigned will have their names removed from the PGA Tour standings – FedEx Cup and Presidents Cup – after this week. He said the tour will ensure that those who have not quit will not affect rankings on various tour rosters.

The USGA has already declared that eligible players can still participate in the US Open next week. The PGA Tour does not organize major tournaments.

PGA champion Justin Thomas and four-time major champion Rory McIlroy welcomed the decision to halt the tour this week at the Canadian Open.

Gilbert Espinosa

“I think anyone who’s shocked clearly didn’t listen to the message that Jay and everyone else put out,” Thomas said. “They took that risk whether they thought it was a risk or not.”

Ten players have resigned from the PGA Tour, a list that includes Johnson and Sergio Garcia. Mickelson, a lifetime member with 45 PGA Tour titles, is among those who didn’t.

“I think of them a little less for performing in LIV events,” Albuquerque resident Tyson Holder said as he made his way to the No. 1 tee at ADO. “If I was a PGA Tour golfer, I would be looking for money. Should they be considered a little less? Maybe because of the politics involved, yes. And, for the notoriety of the PGA Tour, yes.

Holder said he was very interested to see who would win at the LIV event this week and planned to watch.

LIV Golf, run by Greg Norman and funded by Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund, reacted to the tour’s decision calling it vindictive and divisive.

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

Tyler Holder

The problem is that players are competing without a conflicting PGA Tour event exit.

“I think these guys are independent contractors,” Espinosa said. “I know they’re on the PGA Tour but they’re not under contract. They have guys who play other tours. Unless they put them on a contract where they pay them weekly or annually. , like baseball or the NFL, I have no problem with them leaving and playing another round.

Millican said the game of golf is moving in the right direction, with rising prize money serving as a potential motivation to improve the game. The attention golf has received on rival league issues isn’t bad no more.

“I think this is the first time there’s been real competition between two tours,” Millican said. “It will be interesting to see what happens. It’s a new concept in our sport.

Derek Gutierrez, general manager/director of PGA golf at Santa Ana Golf Club, Inc., declined to comment, as did Sun Country Golf House executive director Cory Armstrong. Gutierrez is director of the PGA of America National Board of Directors for District 12.

The Journal’s Steve Virgen contributed to this report.