According to a report on Golfweek.com, the PGA Tour is escalating its global turf war with a potential start-up circuit that’s being backed by the Saudi government.
Players will not be granted competing event releases for next year’s Saudi International, a lucrative event that had been a part of the European Tour schedule. According to the report, the European Tour will not sanction the event next year.
In a statement to GolfChannel.com, a Tour spokesperson said only, “the PGA Tour has a long-standing policy of not granting releases to unsanctioned events.”
The move appears to be in response to a Saudi-backed Super Golf League that’s attempting to lure top players to a global circuit with lucrative purses. Although no players have officially committed to the new league, the proposed tour does have traction among some of the game’s top players.
“I think there's pluses and minuses for everything. I think they've obviously got a lot of money and they've come out and sent a few shock waves about and people feel threatened. You know, the people that feel threatened are trying to combat it,” Lee Westwood said in May at the PGA Championship. “For me at nearly 50 it's a no-brainer, isn't it? If somebody stood here and offered me 50 million [dollars] to play golf when I'm 48, it's a no-brainer.”
The European Tour has not announced next year’s schedule and it remains to be seen if the circuit plans to continue to sanction the Saudi event, which was won by Dustin Johnson this year, but even if they don’t the tournament could land on the Asian Tour schedule.
According to the report, the Saudi government has recently made a “significant” investment in the Asian Tour in a move that could secure sanctioned status as well as a world ranking points, which are two of the biggest obstacles facing the Super Golf League.