The decision by a couple of Australians to join Greg Norman’s breakaway tour could have severe repercussions at home.
The Australian Open and PGA could be forced to ban the defending champions in both events later this year if the DP World Tour follows through on threats of penalties for players who signed with Greg Norman‘s LIV golf tour.
Reigning Australian Open champion Matt Jones and PGA winner Jed Morgan were among the first 42 players who signed on to play in the opening $35m event in London later this month.
Jones, who won the last Australian Open in 2019, confirmed he had signed on for “multiple events” with LIV Golf.
In the immediate aftermath, the PGA Tour, of which Jones is a member, reiterated that players who had not gained the necessary release to play, and none were given, could be subject to disciplinary action.
“As communicated to our entire membership on May 10, PGA Tour members have not been authorised to participate in the Saudi Golf League’s London event under PGA tournament regulations,” the PGA Tour said in a statement.
“Members who violate the tournament regulations are subject to disciplinary action.”
The DP World Tour, formerly the European Tour, also denied releases for players and, while yet to confirm penalties for those who signed with LIV, bans have been speculated.
Given both the Australian Open and PGA are co-sanctioned events, the ramifications for Jones and Morgan could hit their ability to defend their titles. It’s understood Golf Australia will fall into line with whatever actions the DP World Tour takes.
In defending his decision to join the LIV golf tour, Jones said banning players from tours was “not good for golf”.
“I don’t think banning players from playing on the PGA Tour as independent contractors is very good for golf. It’s not a good look for anyone,” he said.
“I understand the tour wants to protect their players and the product they have out here, but I don’t think that’s a good way to go about it.”
Norman has consistently declared that no tour had the right to ban players and insisted he would throw the full legal weight of his Saudi-backed tour behind any court challenges.
Despite his opposition to the LIV tour, former world No.1 Rory McIlroy softened his stance on those players who chose to play and suggested bans were too harsh.
“I certainly don’t think they should drop the hammer,” McIlroy said.
”Look, they are well within their rights to enforce the rules and regulations that have been set. It’s going to end up being an argument about what those rules and regulations are.”
Jones, the world No.68 who is playing the PGA Tour event in Ohio this week, conceded he didn’t know what would happen to players involved in the LIV event.
“I have no idea in regards to what the PGA Tour is going to do, whether it’s suspending, fining, whatever,” he said.
“My next tour stop is … I don’t know when it is, to be honest with you.
“We’ll see. We’ll find out what happens.”