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Paul Casey accuses European Tour of moving goal posts with LIV Golf, says he's played without conflicting-event releases in past

July 27, 2022
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Ross Parker - SNS Group

BEDMINSTER, N.J. — PGA Tour and DP World Tour players who have competed in LIV Golf events have been suspended and fined for playing without receiving a conflicting-event release from their respective commissioners. However, one of the newest LIV Golf members on Wednesday accused the tours of only recently enforcing the rule.

Speaking at Trump National Bedminster Golf Club ahead of this week’s LIV Golf event, Paul Casey explained that such a release, at least with the former European Tour, was never an issue in the past.

“What happened earlier this year, I wasn't a part of it, but fines being handed out for playing without a release, I've played many a tournament without a release and was never fined, and suddenly the goal posts are changing,” Casey said.

One of the provisions in the PGA Tour Player Handbook and Tournament Regulations is that each PGA Tour member acknowledges the commissioner, the tour’s policy board and the appeals committee have the authority to permanently ban a member from playing in a tour co-sponsored, approved or coordinated tournaments if the member violates its regulations. One such regulation generally prohibits tour players from playing in events when there is a PGA Tour-approved or sponsored event taking place at the same time. Per the handbook, players who reach the 15-event minimum (which members must meet as a condition of their membership voting rights) are eligible for three conflicting-event releases per season, which is why so many tour players were allowed to play in the Saudi Invitational earlier this year. The regulations also state such requests can be denied and playing in spite of these denials has been the impetus for tour discipline.

“As our regulations clearly state, there are no conflicting event/media releases available for events that take place in North America,” read a PGA Tour memo earlier this summer announcing suspensions to players who competed at the LIV Golf event at Pumpkin Ridge Golf Club in North Plains, Ore. “As a result, these players did not receive the necessary conflicting event and media rights releases and their participation in the Saudi Golf League/LIV event is in violation of our tournament regulations.”

The DP World Tour has followed a similar route, with CEO Keith Pelley writing in an open letter, “Before joining LIV Golf, players knew there would be consequences if they chose money over competition. Many of them at the time understood and accepted that. Indeed, as one player named in the letter said in a media interview earlier this year; ‘If they ban me, they ban me.’ It is not credible that some are now surprised with the actions we have taken.”

However, Casey’s accusation would make it seem like LIV Golf is being discriminated against by the DP World Tour in ways other events haven’t been.

Given the ramifications and fallout with defecting to LIV Golf, Casey’s remarks could be reviewed as defensive or as simply the latest shots fired in this schism at the professional level. For his part, Casey said he is not trying to hurt the existing tours with his decision.

“None of us, I think speaking for the three of us sitting up here, none of us are intending to damage golf or damage the tour,” Casey said, sitting next to Charles Howell III and Jason Kokrak. “I'm a guy who's sat on the European Player Committee for many years, I've sat on the Player Advisory Council for many years. In fact, I retired and then they asked me to come back because of my input.

“I know the fabric of this game pretty well on the inside, on the tour level. At no time have I ever tried to damage the tour in the decision that I've made. If it's damaged, I think the questions have to be asked somewhere else.”