Golf’s civil war continues with Sergio Garcia ‘prepared to risk his Ryder Cup place by applying for permission to compete in the £ 20m first breakaway Saudi series event – as the European Tour could crack down on rebels’
- Deadline for PGA Tour members to seek permission to play is 10pm tonight
- Up to 20 players are believed to have applied – including three major winners
- Sergio Garcia, 42, is Europe’s all-time leading points scorer in the Ryder Cup
Former Masters champion Sergio Garcia is ready to risk Ryder Cup exile and play in the first Saudi rebel series event in London.
The Spaniard, Europe’s all-time leading points scorer, is reportedly one of at least three major winners who will ask the PGA Tour for permission to appear in the record $ 25million (£ 20m) tournament at Centurion Club in St Albans in June, according to the Telegraph.
The deadline for PGA Tour members is 10pm UK time tonight (Monday) and up to 20 players are believed to have applied.
Sergio Garcia is ready to risk Ryder Cup exile and play in the first Saudi rebel series event
Lee Westwood and Ian Poulter have also been linked with the LIV Golf Invitational Series, run by Greg Norman.
If Westwood, Garcia and Poulter do decide to chase the $ 4million first prize in the 54-hole tournament, then it could be a hammer blow for Europe’s chances of regaining the Ryder Cup in Rome next year.
Jay Monahan, the PGA Tour commissioner, will likely grant a dispensation with the first LIV Golf event in the US at the end of June likely to be their flash point.
But the DP World Tour – formerly the European Tour – is likely to come down hard on the rebels. Their deadline is May 14.
Greg Norman is the frontman for the Saudi Arabia-backed LIV Golf Invitational Series
What is the LIV Series?
The breakaway circuit will launch in London in June, at the Centurion Club near St Albans.
It will tee off on June 9, one week before the US Open, with a £ 19m purse for a 48-man field.
Seven more events will follow run by LIV Golf, going to the US (four events) Thailand and Saudi Arabia.
Those seven will each be worth £ 19m. A £ 23m prize for the top three players of the first seven events will be available.
The eighth event will be a team championship with a £ 38m prize – TBC location.
Each event will be richer than the four majors.
Keith Pelley, the Tour’s chief executive, has previously warned players that they will threaten the future of the circuit if they choose to appear in the new series.
Garcia, Westwood and Poulter have all been viewed as future Europe captains, but this may be thrown into doubt if they were to defy Pelley and the executive board.
Earlier this year Garcia gave an insight into the simmering tensions behind the scenes between the established tours and many leading players over the Saudi bid to change the game.
The Spaniard was outraged that his loyalty over 23 years to the European Tour counted for nothing when he asked for a release to play in the Saudi Invitational next week.
Clearly trying to kill off the Saudi threat to create a new global tour at birth, the European and PGA Tours were reluctant to allow releases to a host of leading Americans plus the likes of Garcia, Lee Westwood and Ian Poulter, before player power won the day.
Garcia, 42, said: ‘I understand the position of the tours but they have to understand that we are trying to achieve things for our families.
‘I’ve been a European Tour member for 23 years and done a lot of things to make that happen. I’ve put a lot of mileage in my body to make it happen. ‘
The LIV Golf Invitational Series cast a shadow over the Masters when Phil Mickelson withdrew following his comments on the Saudi-backed league
The Saudi tour cast a shadow over the Masters, with three-time winner Phil Mickelson withdrawing because of the furore over previous comments he had made.
He claimed the Saudis were ‘scary mother *******’, and that he had only flirted with involvement in the series to make more from the PGA Tour.
Meanwhile, the series has claimed privately that it has recruited two former World No 1 players, both Ryder Cup heroes, to its growing numbers.
The backers of the series hosted sponsors and golf executives at a mansion outside Augusta, while the DP World Tour and PGA Tour are opposed to the Saudi plans.