PGA Tour backs down – gives green light to Saudi release requests

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Graeme McDowell (Photo by Cliff Hawkins/Getty Images)

The PGA Tour has granted conditional releases to its members who applied for special exemptions to compete at February’s Saudi International.

The Tour had seemed adamant that none of its players would be allowed to compete at the Asian Tour event, now fully-backed by Greg Norman’s Saudi-funded LIV Investments Group, even threatening bans for those travelled. However, compromise has now been reached with Tour stars set to flock for valuable appearance fees if they meet certain conditions.

The PGA Tour confirmed on Monday that players are allowed to compete at Royal Greens CC if they have competed at the Pebble Beach Pro-Am at least once in the last five years. If they haven’t fulfilled that requirement, then any player wanting to play Saudi must commit to play at Pebble twice in the next three years. The Pro-Am event clashes with Saudi on the schedule from February 3-6, 2022. The PGA Tour insists their decision to relent is “not precedent setting”.

The statement read:

“With conditions, the PGA Tour has granted all conflicting-event releases to players for the Saudi International, February 3-6, 2022. The tournament will be played the same week as the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am, so players will be required to support that Tour staple going forward.

“The memo announcing the decision went out to the membership on Monday. Players who have played in the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am at least once in the past five years were granted a release on the condition that they commit to play it at least once in the next two years (‘23, ‘24).

“Players who have not played the historic tournament on the Monterey Peninsula at least once in the past five years were granted a release on the condition that they commit to play it at least twice in the next three years (‘23, ‘24, ‘25).”

Good news then for the likes of Graeme McDowell, Shane Lowry and Dustin Johnson who are amongst a large group of players eager to make the trip to Saudi in February for the $5 million event. Both Lowry and McDowell have competed in the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am in the last five years having both missed the cut on their last appearance at the Carmel tournament. What valuable missed cuts they may turn out to be.

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