PGA imposes LIV Golf suspension and what it means for 150th Open in St Andrews

Players competing in the LIV Golf Invitational Series have been suspended by the PGA Tour – but still seem unlikely to be blocked from teeing up in the 150th Open at St Andrews.

The most lucrative golf tournament in history got under way on Thursday with a trumpet fanfare and fighter planes circling overhead.

LIV Golf CEO Greg Norman watched Phil Mickelson, Dustin Johnson and Scott Vincent tee-off on the opening hole in the first $25 million Invitational Series event at Centurion Club.

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But, just 30 minutes later, the PGA Tour sent a memo to members informing them that players competing at Centurion were being suspended.

"In accordance with the PGA Tour's Tournament Regulations, the players competing this week without releases are suspended or otherwise no longer eligible to participate in PGA Tour tournament play, including the Presidents Cup," the statement from PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan read.

"This also applies to all tours sanctioned by the PGA Tour: the Korn Ferry Tour, PGA Tour Champions, PGA Tour Canada and PGA Tour Latinoamerica.

"Their participation in the Saudi Golf League/LIV Golf event is in violation of our Tournament Regulations. The same fate holds true for any other players who participate in future Saudi Golf League events in violation of our Regulations."

It is a tournament which has thrown the world of men's professional golf into turmoil, with Johnson resigning from the PGA Tour to take part and Mickelson committing at the last minute for a fee reported to be $200m.

Phil Mickelson is one of the 48 golfers to join the LIV Golf Series. (Picture: Steven Paston/PA Wire.)

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All 48 players in the field teed off at the same time in a "shotgun start", with 16 groups spread around the course in Hertfordshire.

LIV Golf swiftly hit back with a statement calling the announcement “vindictive, it deepens the divide between the Tour and its members.

"It's troubling that the Tour, an organisation dedicated to creating opportunities for golfers to play the game, is the entity blocking golfers from playing.

LIV Golf Trophies at the Centurion Club, Hertfordshire. (Pic: Steven Paston/PA Wire)

"This certainly is not the last word on this topic. The era of free agency is beginning as we are proud to have a full field of players joining us in London, and beyond."

Dustin Johnson, Sergio Garcia, Martin Kaymer, Graeme McDowell and Lee Westwood had already resigned from the Tour.

They will be removed from the FedEx Cup points list following the end of the RBC Canadian Open on Sunday and, crucially, will not be allowed to play PGA Tour events as a non-member via sponsor's exemptions.

"These players have made their choice for their own financial-based reasons," Monahan added. "But they can't demand the same PGA Tour membership benefits, considerations, opportunities and platform as you. That expectation disrespects you, our fans and our partners."

The USGA announced earlier this week that it would not block LIV Golf players from taking part in next week’s US Open at Brookline. It is expected that the R&A will follow suit for next month’s milestone Open in Fife.

Norman pledged last month he would "defend, reimburse and represent" any players sanctioned and the whole saga has long-since looked destined to end in a legal battle.

"We are going to back up the players, we are going to be there for them, for whatever that is," Norman said. "We're ready to go. We don't want to go, but we're ready to go."

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