PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan on Wednesday encouraged members of the circuit to speak out against their “former colleagues” after 11 players who defected to LIV Golf filed an antitrust lawsuit against the Tour.
Several of them jumped on the open invitation.
Will Zalatoris, second-place finisher at the 2022 PGA Championship, did not appear to welcome the idea of those players who have either resigned their membership to join the rival Saudi-backed league or played without release rejoining the Tour.
He called their decision “detrimental” to the PGA Tour.
“The part to me that I feel is a little frustrating is the fact that obviously, they made their choice to go over there — they’re playing a direct competing tour and they want to come back over here and play… what they’re doing, going over there, is detrimental to our Tour. So, you can’t have it both ways,” Zalatoris said via the Golf Channel.
Similarly, four-time PGA Tour winner Kevin Kisner called it a “difficult situation,” adding that while he has no “hard feelings” for those who joined the rival circuit, he believes they should “stick to where they moved to.”
“Obviously, they didn’t like something about our Tour, so they went to a different tour, and now they’re trying to fight to come back to our Tour. Doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to me,” said Kisner.
Phil Mickelson and 10 other LIV golfers have filed an antitrust lawsuit claiming the PGA Tour’s indefinite suspensions were aimed at hurting their careers. In addition to the complaint, three other golfers — Talor Gooch, Hudson Swafford and Matt Jones — have all filed for a temporary restraining order to compete in next week’s FedEx Cup playoffs, arguing that they qualified before joining LIV Golf.
J.T. Poston, who joined the Tour in 2015, voiced his concern that the lawsuit ultimately affects the players they once competed alongside with.
“When you have these lawsuits and stuff like that, the money that’s being used to fight those lawsuits and to support those cases, I guess, are coming out of our pockets — the guys that have stuck with the Tour, a Tour that has done so much good for so many guys out here,” he told the Golf Channel.
Other players have taken to social media to share the same sentiment.
“It’s truly sad that 3 LIV players are trying to play in the FedEx cup playoffs,” Michael Kim said in a tweet Wednesday. “You’ve made the decision to LIV, just stay there. You’ve taken the money which is fine but this is shameless. Just because it’s free doesn’t mean you have to say yes.”
“I don’t have any problems with all these guys taking the money, and playing LIV. If that’s what they want to do great,” he added in a separate tweet. “Just don’t try to force your way to play the FedEx playoff events because the LIV lawyers offered and the legal fees are paid for.”
“It sounds like some people want their cake and to eat it too,” Joel Dahmen said. “Please stay away in your fantasy land. Sincerely, most tour players.”
In an open letter addressing the Tour, Monahan vowed to “vigorously” fight against the lawsuit to protect the PGA Tour.
“This is your Tour, built on the foundation that we work together for the good and growth of the organization… and then you reap the rewards. It seems your former colleagues have forgotten one important aspect of that equation,” the commissioner wrote.