US golf’s prestigious PGA Tour has today written to its members notifying them that the current and former members participating in LIV Golf Investments’ inaugural men’s Invitational Series tournament, which began today (June 9) at Centurion Club in London, UK, have been suspended.

The tournament is the first being run under the LIV Golf banner and is controversial due to allegations of sports washing leveled against the company’s owner, Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF).

Despite the criticism, it has a 48-player field and is being shown by broadcasters in over 150 territories around the world.

It had been reported that a letter had been readied for sending once all players at the LIV event – many of whom are reportedly being paid vast sums to join the new series – had teed off.

In it, PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan, has said: “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.

“Simultaneous to you receiving this memo, the players are being notified that they are suspended or otherwise no longer eligible to participate in PGA Tour tournament play, including the Presidents Cup. This also applies to all tours sanctioned by the PGA Tour …”

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“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 noted that the players were not given the “necessary conflicting event and media rights releases”, or did not apply for them, hence the violations.

He added that those who had resigned from the PGA Tour would be removed from the points list for the PGA Tour’s FedEx Cup competition and that it would be ensured that those who hadn’t yet resigned will not negatively impact the tournament eligibility, FedEx Cup Playoff eligibility, or Priority Ranking of the remaining members.

The letter listed the following players as having resigned PGA Tour membership prior to playing the LIV event: Sergio Garcia, Branden Grace, Dustin Johnson, Martin Kaymer, Graeme McDowell, Kevin Na, Louis Oosthuizen, Turk Pettit, Charl Schwartzel, and Lee Westwood.

It listed the following as having not resigned: Talor Gooch, Matt Jones, Phil Mickelson, Andy Ogletree, Ian Poulter, Hudson Swafford, Peter Uihlein.

In response, LIV Golf, which has been expecting such action, released a brief statement reading: “Today’s announcement by the PGA Tour is vindictive and it deepens the divide between the Tour and its members. 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.

“The era of free agency is beginning as we are proud to have a full field of players joining us in London, and beyond.”

Greg Norman the chief executive of LIV Golf Investments, has repeatedly hinted at legal ramifications for the PGA Tour if it were to block players from participating due to their playing in LIV tournaments.

In February, he said: “Let’s be clear: A lifetime ban is never going to happen. Jay Monahan is no doubt being advised by high-priced lawyers who – if they are worth even a fraction of their lofty rates – have surely advised him of the legal consequences that will blow up in the PGA Tour’s face if it imposes lifetime bans on independent contractors who choose to associate with a competitor.”

He followed that last month (May) by saying: “The Tour is intent on perpetuating its illegal monopoly of what should be a free and open market. The Tour’s action is anti-golfer, anti-fan, and anti-competitive.”