PGA Tour suspends 17 golfers who opted to play in Saudi-funded LIV Golf Tournament

The PGA commissioner made the announcement Thursday just minutes after the players had teed off at the first LIV event in London
Dustin Johnson of 4 Aces GC greets Phil Mickelson of Hy Flyers GC look on on the 4th green during day one of the LIV Golf Invitationa

The PGA tour announced Thursday that it will suspend 17 players who've gone to the Saudi Arabia-backed LIV Golf league.

"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," tour Commissioner Jay Monahan said in a statement. 

Prior to the announcement of the ban, the Professional Golfers Association Tour had made it abundantly clear that its players would not be granted permission to participate in the LIV tournament and had denied release waivers to the players, which conflicts with the PGA's RBC Canadian Open.

"These players have made their choice for their own financial-based reasons. But they can’t demand the same PGA TOUR membership benefits, considerations, opportunities and platform as you," Monahan also wrote. "That expectation disrespects you, our fans and our partners."

Ten of the suspended 17 players have informed the PGA tour of resignation of their memberships – though Phil Mickelson, who has faced significant criticism for his involvement with LIV, said he will not resign. Mickelson previously earned lifetime PGA Tour membership through his lengthy career and success on the tour.

According to the letter, the suspended players will not be eligible to participate in any PGA Tour tournament including the Presidents Cup, the Korn Ferry Tour, PGA Tour Champions, PGA Tour Canada, and PGA Tour Latinoamerica.

"Today’s announcement by the PGA Tour is vindictive and it deepens the divide between the Tour and its members," LIV Golf said in response to the ban. 

"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."

The players included in the PGA's ban are Mickelson, Dustin Johnson, 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, and Turk Petit.