McKINNEY, Texas — With players facing potential suspensions and/or lifetime bans, Justin Thomas hopes the PGA Tour’s decision to deny conflicting-events releases for the first event of the Saudi Arabian-backed LIV Golf Invitational Series will prevent players from going to London next month.
“I would hope it would deter them from going over there,” Thomas said Wednesday during a news conference ahead of this week’s AT&T Byron Nelson at TPC Craig Ranch.
“I think [PGA commissioner Jay Monahan] made it very clear from the start of what would happen. I think a lot of people are probably like, ‘I can’t believe you did this,’ or, ‘Wow, you went through with it.’ But this is what he said was going to happen all along. And, yeah, it’s one of those things to where he just doesn’t want the competing tour, the back-and-forth.”
On Tuesday, the PGA Tour sent a memo to players in which it denied a release for anyone who wanted to compete in the first LIV Golf Invitational Series event, scheduled for June 9-11 at Centurion Club outside London. The tournament conflicts with the RBC Canadian Open, which will be played that week in Ontario.
Because of the conflicting event, any PGA Tour player would need a release from the PGA Tour to play in London. Those who competed in London without one would face discipline.
Phil Mickelson, Sergio Garcia and Lee Westwood are among the players who requested a release.
“It’s like, ‘Look, if you want to go, go,'” Thomas said. “There’s been plenty of guys that have been advocates of it and have just talked it up all the time, and there have been guys behind the scenes that are saying, ‘I’m going, I’m doing this.’ And like my whole thing is, like, just go then.
“Like, stop going back and forth or like you say you’re going to do this. Everybody’s entitled 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.”
World No. 1 Scottie Scheffler said protecting the PGA Tour, its tournaments and sponsors was the right thing for the tour to do.
“I guess first thoughts would be I kind of figured that was something that would happen,” he said. “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, it’s definitely not something where we want our membership to do because it’s going to harm the tournament that we have opposite that.”
Will Zalatoris, currently 28th in the world, also agreed with the tour’s decision.
“I thought it was the perfect response from the tour,” said Zalatoris, a member of the PGA Tour Player Advisory Council. “The tour is in the best spot it’s ever been, it’s only going to get better, and why would we encourage our players to get releases for those events when essentially we have all these sponsors that are involved with the tour and are only making it better and better?
“So we’re trying to promote our best product possible, and if you want to be a part of this where it’s getting better and better, then you shouldn’t have it both ways. You have a choice. You really do. You can go if you’d like, but it is what it is.”