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Greg Norman has hit out at the PGA Tour after golf's governing body denied requests from a number of players to join the Aussie legend's rebel league.
It emerged on Wednesday that the PGA Tour is denying releases to golfers who asked to play in the first of a series of Saudi-funded tournaments next month in England, a staggering move by commissioner Jay Monahan in trying to quash Norman’s latest bid to start a lucrative rival league.
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The first LIV Golf Invitational is scheduled to take place from June 9-11 at Centurion Golf Club outside of London.
A 48-man field will compete for a $20 million purse over 54 holes, with the winner receiving $4 million (the richest prize in golf history) and last place getting $120,000.
Major winners Phil Mickelson and Sergio Garcia are among players believed to have asked the PGA Tour for a release.
But the tour informed players that their requests were denied on Tuesday afternoon, and then notified all players of the decision in a short memo.
“We have notified those who have applied that their request has been declined in accordance with the PGA Tour Tournament Regulations," the memo said, according to Associated Press.
"As such, Tour members are not authorised to participate in the Saudi Golf League’s London event under our regulations.
“As a membership organisation, we believe this decision is in the best interest of the PGA Tour and its players.”
While the names of players who have signed up for Norman's breakaway tour has not been officially released, Mickelson confirmed through his agent last week that he has asked for a conflicting event release to the London event.
Lee Westwood also confirmed last week that he asked the PGA Tour and European tour for a release.
The Daily Telegraph has reported that Garcia, Martin Kaymer and Ian Poulter are also among those who have sought releases.
Greg Norman hits out over PGA Tour move
Norman is the CEO of LIV Golf Investments, funded primarily by Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund.
He told Sky Sport earlier on Tuesday that he expected to have six of the top 50 players in the world at the London event and 19 of the top 100.
“Sadly, the PGA Tour seems intent on denying professional golfers their right to play golf, unless it’s exclusively in a PGA Tour tournament," Norman said in a statement, calling the decision “anti-golfer, anti-fan, and anti-competitive.”
“This is particularly disappointing in light of the Tour’s non-profit status, where its mission is purportedly ‘to promote the common interests of professional tournament golfers’.
“Instead, the Tour is intent on perpetuating its illegal monopoly of what should be a free and open market.
“No matter what obstacles the PGA Tour puts in our way, we will not be stopped. We will continue to give players options that promote the great game of golf globally.”
When asked about the tour’s next step, Monahan said, “I can tell you what we’re going to do - keep hosting the best events with the best players, with the world’s greatest fans and partners.”
The first LIV event is scheduled to take place the same week as the RBC Canadian Open - the fourth-oldest national open in golf which Norman won twice.
Monahan granted releases to about 20 players for the Saudi International in February - the same week as Pebble Beach - under the proviso that they play Pebble Beach at least twice over the next three years.
The full field for the first of the eight-event LIV series is expected to be released after the PGA Championship next week.
with Associated Press and Yahoo Sports
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