Start of Saudi Gulf Tour: PGA bans those who take dirty money

The Saudi Arabian state fund is attracting the stars of the golf scene with seemingly endless millions, and many professionals are getting involved.

Start of Saudi Gulf Tour: PGA bans those who take dirty money

The Saudi Arabian state fund is attracting the stars of the golf scene with seemingly endless millions, and many professionals are getting involved. The PGA Tour is reacting and suspending all golfers competing in the inaugural tournament in London. The search for transmission partners is also going badly.

The professional golfers' association PGA has carried out its threat and banned all participants in the controversial tournament series with multimillion-dollar prizes from Saudi Arabia from their competitions. This was announced by Commissioner Jay Monahan in a letter to PGA members. 17 players are initially affected, including top US star Phil Mickelson and what was once the best German professional, Martin Kaymer. They were among the players who teeed off at the first tournament in the LIV Golf Investments series in London on Thursday. The PGA also lists Kaymer as one of the ten golfers who voluntarily gave up their PGA membership.

"These players made their choices for their own reasons, primarily financial. But they cannot expect the same benefits of PGA Tour membership that you do. That expectation lacks respect for you, our fans and our partners," wrote Monahan to the PGA players.

The "Saudi Tour", which signed other former major winners Dustin Johnson (USA), Sergio Garcia (Spain), Louis Oosthuizen and Charl Schwartzel (both South Africa), reacted with disappointment. The measures would deepen the fracture in the global gulf. "Today's announcement by the PGA Tour is vindictive and deepens the rift between the Tour and its members," it said.

Johnson had previously stated that he had given up his PGA tour card. On the other hand, the superstar condemned violations of human rights, which the Saudis are repeatedly accused of. When asked how it all fits together, the otherwise articulate 51-year-old didn't have a convincing answer either.

The invitation tour, organized by ex-professional Greg Norman and financed with billions of dollars from the Saudi state fund, starting near London, has been dividing the golfing world for weeks. It's about sports washing, i.e. the practice of wanting to improve your own image with massive amounts of money. The Saudi sovereign wealth fund is proceeding in a similar way at the Premier League club Newcastle United, which managed to stay up at the end of last year and with expensive newcomers.

The participants were lured with sometimes unbelievable sums. Superstar Tiger Woods is said to have had an offer of around 500 million US dollars. While Johnson and company weakened, Woods, Rory McIlroy, Justin Thomas and other superstars rejected the "dirty money" on moral grounds.

Meanwhile, the English TV stations sent a clear signal. As the "Daily Mail" reports, the organizers approached "Sky Sports", "BT Sports", "DAZN" and other streaming services and tried to negotiate a transmission deal. However, the TV stations and streaming platforms all showed no interest and refused a live broadcast.

The TV blackout in Great Britain is a heavy blow for the LIV Series, especially since the British Isles are considered the largest market for golf alongside the USA. The Saudi organizers are now resorting to an emergency plan and will stream the tournament free of charge on their own website, YouTube and Facebook. In addition to the planned TV millions, the series is primarily losing reach.

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