LIV Golf players allowed into PGA Championship; LIV members eligible for all four majors in 2023
LIV Golf players will be able to compete at all four men's majors in 2023.
On Wednesday, the PGA of America announced its eligibility requirements for the 2023 PGA Championship, and despite past signals about LIV defectors possibly being prohibited from competing in the tournament, members of the Saudi-backed circuit will indeed get to play for the Wanamaker Trophy this year at Oak Hill in Rochester, N.Y.
“Our decisions are always based on what’s in the best interest of the PGA of America and conducting the best championship possible,” said PGA of America CEO Seth Waugh in a press release. “Sadly the current division in the professional game is not good for the sport or the future of the game. We hope there might be some resolution soon. In the meantime, as always, our focus will be on our mission to grow the game and improve the lives of our members, who work so hard to impact millions of lives every day.”
The championship’s bylaws had required players to be PGA of America members in order to play in the PGA Championship, a status they gain through their membership on the PGA Tour. Two years ago at Kiawah Island, Waugh said those who were banned or suspended by the tour would likely lose their PGA of America privileges, keeping them out of the PGA Championship and Ryder Cup. Last May at Southern Hills, Waugh said his Kiawah comments “still stand.”
“Our bylaws do say that you have to be a recognized member of a recognized tour in order to be a PGA member somewhere, and therefore eligible to play,” Waugh said at the 2022 PGA Championship. “If something else became one of those, obviously we'd have to recognize it.”
But with its Wednesday announcement of its exempt categories, the PGA of America made it clear that "any player" who qualifies through its exemptions will be eligible to compete in the PGA Championship. That includes past PGA Championship winners who have jumped to LIV (Phil Mickelson, Brooks Koepka, Martin Kaymer), along with winners of the other major championships the past five years and winners of the Players Championship the past three years. Recent LIV signees Mito Periera and Brendan Steele will likewise be in the field by finishing in the top 15 at last year’s championship.
Mickelson, the 2021 PGA winner, did not attempt to defend his title last year amid the fallout from his controversial remarks about Saudi Arabia, although Mickelson ended his sabbatical weeks later at the launch of LIV Golf.
The PGA of America announcement comes a day after the R&A revealed that the Open Championship also will remain open to LIV Golf members. Augusta National and the USGA had previously announced their respective men's majors for 2023 will remain open to LIV Golf members. Augusta National, the USGA and PGA of America are all currently involved in an antitrust probe by the Justice Department amid the legal battle between the PGA Tour and LIV Golf.
The PGA of America additionally announced a new category, where the top three players on the International Federation Ranking List will grab a PGA spot.
This year’s PGA Championship begins May 18 at Oak Hill. Justin Thomas is the defending champ.
PGA Championship exemption categories
The PGA of America has approved the following list of players who qualify for the 105th PGA Championship:
1. All former winners of the PGA Championship
2. Winners of the last five Masters (2019-23)
3. Winners of the last five U.S. Opens (2018-22)
4. Winners of the last five Open Championships (2017-22). [Note: Canceled in 2020]
5. Winners of the last three THE PLAYERS Championships (2021-23)
6. The top three on the OWGR’s International Federation Ranking List as of April 24, 2023.
7. Winner of 2022 KitchenAid Senior PGA Championship
8. The top 15 finishers and ties from the 2022 PGA Championship
9. The top 20 finishers from the 2023 PGA Professional Championship.
10.The top 70 players who are eligible and have earned the most PGA Championship points from the 2022 AT&T Byron Nelson through the 2023 Wells Fargo Championship (ending May 7, 2023).
11. Playing members of the last named U.S. and European Ryder Cup teams (2021), provided they remain in the top 100 on the Official World Golf Rankings as of May 7, 2023.
12. Winners of PGA TOUR co-sponsored or approved tournaments whose victories are considered official, from the 2022 Charles Schwab Challenge through the 2023 AT&T Byron Nelson.
13. If necessary to complete the field, those players beyond the top 70 players who are eligible and who have earned the most PGA Championship points from the 2022 AT&T Byron Nelson through the 2023 Wells Fargo Championship (ending May 7, 2023) in order of their position on such a list.
*Note: The PGA Championship points list is based on Official Money earned in PGA TOUR events within the defined period in Nos. 10 and 12 above and is available at https://www.pgatour.com/stats/stat.132.html. Announcement of the final field is planned for May 10.