Justin Thomas, Scottie Scheffler and More PGA Tour Pros React to Denied Requests to Play LIV Golf Invitational Series Event in London

When the PGA Tour sent an email to its members Tuesday night informing players that it had turned down requests to launch a conflicting event to play in the inaugural LIV Golf Invitational Series event in London the same week as Tour’s RBC Canadian Open, was bound to become a talking point at this week’s AT&T Byron Nelson.

“As a membership organization, we believe this decision is in the best interest of the PGA Tour and its players,” wrote Tyler Dennis, Senior Vice President and Chief Operating Officer for the Tour.

World No. 1 Scottie Scheffler said he had a busy night at home, woke up early and played his pro am and hadn’t had much time to process the Tour decision, but at first glance he supported the move.

“I thought that was something that would happen,” he said in his pre-tournament press conference before the AT&T Byron Nelson in his hometown of Dallas. “If you’re playing here on the PGA Tour, playing in something that could be a rival series to the PGA Tour, being a member of our Tour, that’s definitely not something we want our membership to do because it’s going to hurt the tournament that we have in front of that. And that, I’m sure that’s why they went, that’s why they didn’t release the players. Because if we have 15 guys that go there and play, that’s going to hurt the RBC and the Canadian Open.”

2022 Zurich Classic of New Orleans

2022 Zurich Classic of New Orleans

Will Zalatoris reacts after putting on the ninth green during the final round of the 2022 Zurich Classic of New Orleans in Avondale, Louisiana. (Photo: Andrew Wevers-USA TODAY Sports)

Will Zalatoris, last year’s Rookie of the Year and a member of the Tour’s Player Advisory Council, participated in closed-door talks and fully backed Commissioner Jay Monahan’s decision.

“I thought that was the perfect answer,” Zalatoris said. “Because we’re in a great place, the Tour is in the best place it’s ever been, it’s only going to get better and why would we want to? Why would we encourage our players to get pitches for those events when we essentially have everything. these sponsors who are involved with the Tour and just make it better and better. We’re trying to promote our best possible product and if you want to be a part of this where it’s just getting better then you shouldn’t have both. You have a choice, I want I mean, you really do. You can go if you want, but, you know, it is what it is.

Justin Thomas has repeatedly made it clear that he is interested in winning tournaments and creating a legacy in the game more than just filling his bank account with more winnings.

“I hope it will dissuade them from going there,” he said. “I think Jay made it very clear from the beginning what was going to happen or, you know, I think a lot of people are probably going, ‘I can’t believe you did this,’ or ‘Wow, you did.’ .’ But I want to say that this is what he said was going to happen all along. And, yeah, it’s one of those things where he just doesn’t want the competition tour, the back and forth. You know, it’s like, Look, if you want to go, go. I mean there’s been a lot of guys that have championed it and talked about it all the time and it’s been guys behind the scenes that say, ‘I’m going, I’m going to do this. And since everything is mine, just go then. Like stop going back and forth or how you say you’re going to do this, it’s like you can do it, everyone has the right to do what they want, you know what I mean?

“Like if I wanted to go play that tour, I could go play that tour. But I’m loyal to the PGA Tour and I’ve said that and I think there’s a lot of opportunities for me to, I mean, break records, make history, do a lot of things on the PGA Tour that I want to do. And there could be people who want to make that change and it’s like you’re allowed to make that choice, you’re a human being and that’s just part of it.”

Former European Ryder Cup captain Paul McGinley, who played most of his career on the DP World Tour, has served as captain, Ryder Cup teammate and fellow competitor with many of the European players linked to joining the LIV series (including Lee Westwood, Sergio García, among others) brings a Eurocentric perspective. He voiced his opinion in an interview Wednesday with SiriusXM and joined Scheffler, Thomas and Zalatoris in supporting established tours, which have announced a strategic alliance in 2020 and are rumored to be discussing a closer relationship to fend off the Saudi threat.

“I’m not going to make this personal, they’re all friends of mine,” McGinley said. “But I’m very traditionalist, I’m very aligned with the PGA, the DP World Tour and the major championships in terms of maintaining and improving the status quo that we have right now, which is, you know, every week that we have both European Tour like PGA Tours. So I want to improve that. I think we have common ground between the two tours trying to improve on that, uh, having a world calendar that goes hand in hand. I know there’s some talk behind the scenes to that effect of those two main tours coming together and working more collaboratively in the future.”

LIV Golf, which on Tuesday announced a $2 billion infusion to support its launch, has been touting exorbitant purses and guaranteed money to lure players into its events.

“I can understand a little bit and see where the guys are coming from. I mean, the amount of money that has been put on the table is an incredible amount, an enormous amount of money. And so late in their careers they have the opportunity to make so much money,” McGinley said. “In many ways I can understand the incentive that has been offered to them and why they would be interested in it. But it’s certainly not, personally from my point of view, the side of the fence that I’m on.”

Speaking on condition of anonymity, a professional who splits time on both the PGA Tour and the DP World Tour told our Eamon Lynch the following: “I’m sure weighing the pros and cons of taking a jump like this. what jay [Monahan] decide is a very important part of that. Asking permission to play an international tour event is something I have done with the PGA Tour since I first picked up my card many years ago. I understand that the initial construction of this LIV Tour was destructive in nature if the PGA Tour wanted no part of it. Here, in the short term, events are being scheduled to be as non-confrontational as possible, which is hard to do. As a player who plays multiple tours, conflicting events are something we always deal with and I don’t see how the LIV tour is any different until it’s 48 guys committed to 14 events per season.”

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