DUBLIN, Ohio (AP) — Kevin Na became the first player to publicly resign from the PGA Tour on Saturday, four days after the Saudi-financed LIV Golf Invitational listed him in the field for next week’s debut of the new series.
Na is one of six players to have resigned, according to a person with knowledge of their decisions. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the players have not said. Na announced his decision on social media.
Na is No. 33 in the world and among four players from the top 50 who have signed up for Saudi riches to play in Greg Norman’s new league of 48-man fields over 54 holes and as much as $25 million in prize money for each event.
The first one starts next Friday outside London.
“I would like the freedom to play wherever I want and exercising my right as a free agent gives me that opportunity,” he wrote. “However to remain a PGA Tour player, I must give up my right to make these choices about my career.”
Na is a five-time PGA Tour winner with $37.9 million in career earnings.
The PGA Tour requires members to play 15 times a year, and it historically grants releases for at least three overseas tournaments a year. However, it denied releases for the LIV Golf Invitational because of its threat as a series of eight tournaments, five of them in the United States.
The tour does not grant releases for events held in North America. The tour has said those who played outside London next week in the LIV event would face discipline that it has not specified, presumably losing membership.
One reason for players to resign is for the majors. The USGA has not said whether players who sign up for LIV Golf will be allowed to play the U.S. Open on June 16-19 at The Country Club. While the tour does not run the majors, the relationship is such that majors could honor PGA Tour regulations if a player is suspended.
“I hope the current policies change and I’ll be able to play on the PGA Tour again,” Na wrote.
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