Sergio Garcia looks set to be one of the big names competing in the Saudi Golf League opener at the Centurion Club in June, it has emerged.
Garcia has applied to the PGA Tour for a release to play in the $25m tournament according to the Telegraph, with as many as 20 PGA Tour pros said to have applied for releases. At least three Major champions have apparently applied for the event as the deadline of this evening draws closer.
The PGA Tour operates a policy where players must seek a release to play in a non-PGA Tour sanctioned event up to 45 days prior to the date, with the decision made up to 30 days beforehand. This means we’ll likely find out which big names are teeing it up in Greg Norman’s inaugural LIV Golf Invitational Series tournament in 15 days’ time.
Garcia’s involvement puts doubt over his potential future Ryder Cup captaincy with DP World Tour chief Keith Pelley strongly against his members playing in the new ‘super league’. Pelley last week emailed the DP World Tour membership pleading with them to remain loyal amid the Saudi threat. In February, PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan reportedly told his members to “walk out that door now” if they were considering teeing it up in the series.
Other potential future Ryder Cup captains Lee Westwood and Ian Poulter have also been linked to the series. Henrik Stenson was also a name mentioned but his participation now looks unlikely after being named Europe’s 2023 Ryder Cup captain.
The Telegraph also reports that World No.15 and 2010 Open champion Louis Oosthuizen may be the highest-ranked player set to compete at the Centurion, with his fellow South Africans Charl Schwartzel and Branden Grace also linked.
Garcia has played in all four Saudi Internationals from 2019-2022, where big name PGA and DP World Tour players reportedly earn six-to-seven-figure sums as appearance fees. The Spaniard said prior to this year’s Saudi International, which was sanctioned by the Asian Tour for the first time and promoted backlash from the PGA and DP World Tours, that he understood the positions from his home 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.”
Garcia infamously was disqualified from the inaugural tournament after damaging multiple greens. He apologized for his misconduct and has played in the event each year since.
Each of the first seven events on the new LIV Golf Invitational Series will feature 48-man fields in 54-hole stroke play with no cut and a huge $25m purse. The first event clashes with the Canadian Open on the PGA Tour, which has a purse of $8.7m whilst the DP World Tour’s Scandinavian Mixed, also in the same week, carries a purse of $2m.
Following the inaugural LIV Golf Invitational Series tournament at the Centurion, it then heads Stateside to Pumpkin Ridge in Portland before trips to New Jersey, Boston, Chicago, Bangkok, Jeddah and then, if reports are true, Trump Doral in Florida for the season- ending Team Championship.