Eight-time Professional Golfers’ Association (PGA) winner Brooks Koepka is going to bail on the U.S. league, the top in the world, and is heading to the controversial Saudi-backed tour, according to a new report.
Koepka, 32, a former world number one player, will join other majors names, including Phil Mickelson, Dustin Johnson, Bryson DeChambeau, and others, The Telegraph reported.
The new tour, dubbed the LIV Golf Invitational Series (the Roman numeral for 54, the number of holes golfers will pay in each tournament), is backed by hundreds of millions of dollars from Saudi Arabia, one of the worst human rights offenders in the world.
“The 32-year-old Koepka is a big get for the LIV Tour considering that, like his rival DeChambeau and Johnson, he’s in the prime of his career — unlike some of the other players who’ve joined and are 40 years old or older,” the New York Post reported. “Also of note is the fact that Koepka’s younger brother, Chase, a fledgling pro who’s been fighting to earn his PGA Tour card for status to play on that tour, is already a LIV member, having played in its inaugural event two weeks ago.”
A slew of members on the PGA Tour in recent weeks have announced that they will bail from the top league in the world to join the new series, which will play just eight events. The nice thing for golfers is that no one will be cut from the field (as the PGA does), and last place pays $120,000.
The PGA is not happy.
“We have followed the Tournament Regulations from start to finish in responding to those players who have decided to turn their backs on the PGA Tour by willfully violating a regulation,” the PGA said in a statement last week. “The players are being notified that they are suspended or otherwise no longer eligible to participate in PGA Tour tournament play, including the Presidents Cup. This also applies to all tours sanctioned by the PGA Tour: the Korn Ferry Tour, PGA tour Champions, PGA Tour Canada and PGA Tour Latinoamerica.”
“The players listed below did not receive the necessary conflicting events and media rights releases — or did not apply for releases at all — and their participation in the Saudi Golf League/LIV Golf event is a violation of our Tournament Regulations.”
The players being banned are Dustin Johnson, Phil Mickelson, Bryson DeChambeau, Sergio Garcia, Talor Gooch, Andy Ogletree, Branden Grace, Matt Jones, Martin Kaymer, Graeme McDowell, Kevin Na, Louis Oosthuizen, Ian Poulter, Charl Schwartzel, Hudson Swafford, Peter Uihlien, Lee Westwood, Turk Pettit — and now, Koepka.
The new LIV league responded. “Today’s announcement by the PGA Tour is vindictive and it deepens the divide between the Tour and its members,” LIV Golf said in a statement. “It’s troubling that the Tour, an organization dedicated to creating opportunities for golfers to play the game, is the entity blocking golfers from playing. This certainly is not the last word on this topic. The era of free agency is beginning as we are proud to have a full field of players joining us in London, and beyond.”
Joseph Curl has covered politics for 35 years, including 12 years as White House correspondent for a national newspaper. He was also the a.m. editor of the Drudge Report for four years. Send tips to email@example.com and follow him on Twitter @josephcurl.