PGA Tour denies players' requests to compete in Saudi-backed LIV event

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Golf - The 2020 Ryder Cup - Whistling Straits, Sheboygan, Wisconsin, U.S. - September 24, 2021 Team USA vice captain Phil Mickelson during the Foursomes REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

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May 10 (Reuters) - The PGA Tour on Tuesday rejected requests from players for authorization to play the first Saudi-backed LIV Golf Invitational Series event in London next month.

The new series, which offers the promise of super-sized prize money, is set to begin June 9 and would conflict with the RBC Canadian Open, a PGA Tour official told the players in an email reviewed by Reuters.

"As such, Tour members are not authorized to participate in the Saudi Golf League's London event under our Regulations," Tyler Dennis, senior VP & chief of operations at the PGA Tour, said in the email.

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"As a membership organization, we believe this decision is in the best interest of the PGA Tour and its players."

The move comes after the PGA Tour granted event releases for other non-PGA Tour events in the past.

Phil Mickelson, Sergio Garcia and Lee Westwood were among the players who had requested a release before the PGA Tour moved to stop its top talent from participating in the rival league.

If the players choose to play in it anyway, they could face disciplinary action from the PGA Tour.

Greg Norman, CEO of LIV, said Tuesday the event had secured an additional $2 billion in funding ahead of its first-ever tournament and added that several top players had said they would play without a release. read more

"No tour in this world owns golf," Norman said. "There's been a monopoly in place for 53 years."

Six-time major champion Mickelson announced in February he was taking time away from golf after a firestorm erupted over comments he made about the Saudi Arabian government, which funded the new golf league. read more

Mickelson later apologized to LIV for his "reckless" remarks, which were critical of the Saudi government's human rights record, saying that in LIV he saw the opportunity to "reshape how the PGA Tour operates."

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Reporting by Amy Tennery in New York and Rory Carroll in Los Angeles; Editing by Cynthia Osterman and Kenneth Maxwell

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