London: The PGA Tour has threatened the world’s leading golfers with instant suspension and a lifetime ban if they join a proposed breakaway world Tour, promising multi-million dollar deals, Britain’s Daily Telegraph and other media outlets reported.
The controversy echoes last month’s unsuccessful attempt by 12 European soccer clubs to create a breakaway European Super League, prompting a backlash from fans, players and politicians.
The Telegraph said players have been offered contracts of between $30 million-$100 million to take part, but that the PGA had warned of severe consequences during a meeting ahead of the Wells Fargo Championship.
“PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monagan on Tuesday night warned the would-be rebels that they face an instant suspension and a lifetime ban. The mandatory players meeting here at Quail Hollow fell silent as the audience took in the seismic consequences,” the Telegraph said.
The PGA Tour did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
European Tour Chief Executive Keith Pelley said that the organisation was aligned with the PGA Tour in “opposing, in the strongest possible terms” any proposal for an alternative golf league, in the interests of players and fans.
“Since the launch of our strategic alliance last November, our two organisations have been working together to make global golf less fractured and not create further division,” he said.
The British-based World Golf Group had publicly unveiled its plan in 2020 for a new global Tour – the Premier Golf League (PGL) – comprising 18 yearly events featuring 48 players. Each tournament would have prize money of $10 million.
The PGL had said it wanted to work with established tours rather than as a breakaway circuit, but the PGA and European Tours were dismissive about the circuit which had planned to launch in 2022.
Former world No. 1, Northern Ireland’s Rory McIlroy, had also rejected the idea, saying he wanted autonomy over his career choices.
But media reports said the latest attempt at a breakaway tour – recast as the Super Golf League – was backed by Saudi money and a team of negotiators have set up camp in South Florida where several top golf players reside.