Garcia ‘not bothered’ by PGA Tour suspension

Golf – The inaugural LIV Golf Invitational – Centurion Club, Hemel Hempstead, St Albans, Britain – June 9, 2022 Spain’s Sergio Garcia of team Fireballs speaks to the media after the first round Action Images via Reuters/Paul Childs

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ST ALBANS, England, June 9 (Reuters) – Former Masters champion Sergio Garcia said he was “not bothered” by the PGA Tour’s decision to suspend 17 players who took part in the opening event of the inaugural LIV Invitational Series near London on Thursday.

The launch of the series, which boasts an eye-popping $255 million prize fund over eight events, has sparked a power struggle in golf and accusations of “sportswashing” by Saudi Arabia whose Public Investment Fund (PIF) is funding the breakaway venture.

Garcia, who joined twice major champion Dustin Johnson and others in resigning his PGA membership to play in the LIV series in order to avoid a legal fight, stood by his decision after firing a one-over 71 in the first round of the 54-hole event.

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Asked about the suspension, announced in a letter by PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan shortly after play started, the 42-year-old Spaniard said: “That’s up to him. But it doesn’t bother me. I’m very happy where I am.

“And I’m excited. I’m excited for this tour. I resigned a week and a half ago. So whatever the PGA Tour says doesn’t go with me because I’m not a member.”

Monahan said even those who have resigned from the PGA Tour will not be able to use sponsors’ exemptions as a loophole, meaning the likes of Garcia and Johnson will have greatly reduced playing schedules this year.

“I’m very happy to be here for many reasons, because it’s going to allow me to do what I love, which is playing golf and to see my family more, spend more time with my kids and make a good living while doing it ,” Garcia said.

“So for me, it’s a win win.”

Six-times major champion Phil Mickelson, a long-time PGA Tour member who has not resigned, refused to answer questions on the subject after firing a one-under-par round of 69 on his return to competitive golf after a self-imposed hiatus following a backlash over his comments on the LIV Series.

Former US Open champion Graeme McDowell, one of several European Ryder Cup stalwars signed up for the LIV Series along with Ian Poulter and Lee Westwood, said he had reluctantly resigned from the PGA 30 minutes before teeing off on Thursday.

“We’re here because we believe we’re independent contractors and we should be allowed to compete and play where we want to all over the world,” the Northern Irishman said.

“I didn’t want to resign. I love the PGA Tour. It’s been great to me but this is about wanting to be able to add additional opportunities to my golf career.”

McDowell said he hoped Europe’s DP World Tour would not follow the same route as the PGA Tour.

“I felt like the PGA Tour was gonna take the hard stance. But I hope the European Tour doesn’t follow suit. It has a fantastic opportunity here with a lot of European players and European Tour players, especially if we’re not playing PGA Tour.”

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Reporting by Martyn Herman, editing by Ed Osmond

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