Unlike Bryson DeChambeau, who recently said he was not tempted by LIV Golf before making the leap to the Saudi-backed tour this week, PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan kept his word.
Monahan skipped over any meaningless fines and did what he had to do:
Protect his tour and back up his talk of the past few months.
Monahan sent a memo Thursday to those who have “decided to turn their backs on the PGA Tour,” informing them they “are suspended or otherwise no longer eligible to participate in PGA Tour tournament play, including the Presidents Cup.”
So, beyond those who were proactive and already resigned their membership from the tour — Jupiter’s Dustin Johnson, Palm Beach Gardens’ Charl Schwartzel, Sergio Garcia among others — Monahan banned 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 play in LIV’s next event June 30-July 2 in Portland, Oregon.
Monahan’s memo came as the first event of the LIV Golf Invitational Series, which is financed by Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund, teed off in London on Thursday.
Monahan’s decision is supported by two of the biggest names in the sport, Justin Thomas and Rory McIlroy, both of Jupiter.
Speaking from the Canadian Open, Thomas said he’s “pleased” and anybody who is “shocked” by the ban has not been listening to Monahan’s message. Added McIlroy: “I think that the majority of the membership that are here this week and that haven’t gone and played elsewhere really appreciate that. So I think he’s done the right thing.”
None of this should be a surprise to those chasing the money. Every player, from Mickelson, who reportedly is receiving a $200 million signing bonus, to the golfer who finishes last in London this week and receives $120,000, knew joining LIV would mean facing the consequences and the hit to their reputations.
They just decided money is more important.
Monahan’s ban also applies to all tours sanctioned by the PGA Tour: Korn Ferry, Tour Champions, Tour Canada and Tour Latinoamerica. West Palm Beach’s Chase Koepka joined LIV after failing for six years to gain membership in the PGA Tour. Koepka has made $8,500 this year playing 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 to a career that is completely undistinguished.
For those like Thomas and McIlroy and many others, including Chase’s more successful brother, Brooks, their allegiance to the PGA Tour outweighs any financial gain from LIV.
And for many, those discussions with financial advisers, sponsors and agents must have been intense. One of those, Jupiter’s Rickie Fowler, refuses to shut the door on joining LIV.
Fowler, 33, appears to be a prime candidate to join LIV considering his game has fallen off a cliff in recent years. He’s not won a tournament in the past three years with one top three finish in that time, missing nearly 40% of the cuts.
Fowler’s world ranking of 145 is as low as it’s been in about a dozen years. He is an alternate for next week’s US Open — which is allowing LIV tour golfers to participate — failing to qualify for the second straight year.
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 handful of others, also must weigh the fallout from sponsors. Fowler has had a strong relationship with Rocket Mortgage and Farmers Insurance, among others, and it’s likely he’s earned more money from sponsors than the $41 million he’s earned on the course.
Fowler would be a nice addition for LIV considering that his popularity, so far, has withstood the decline in his game. But for Fowler, who’s still cashing significant checks, would it be worth the backlash?
How to watch LIV Golf Invitational
Where: Pumpkin Ridge Golf Club, Portland, Oregon
When: Thursday-Saturday (54 holes)
This article originally appeared on Palm Beach Post: PGA Tour commissioner suspends LIV golfers. What about Rickie Fowler?