There’s a bit of a mystery coming out of PGA Tour headquarters at Ponte Vedra Beach.
You may or may not recall that the Saudi Invitational was a DP World Tour event last year. Harold Varner III won it, beating Bubba Watson with a 92-foot eagle putt on the 72nd hole.
But the golf world underwent a split and the Saudi tournament is no longer a DP World event — instead, it’s now an Asian Tour tournament.
The PGA Tour has confirmed that a “few” of its players requested and were granted releases to play in the event that begins February 2 in Saudi Arabia. The sponsor/money for that event comes from the Saudi Public Investment Fund, the same one that backs the LIV series.
The Tour declined to give the exact number of exemptions that were granted or identify which players had asked to play the Saudi International.
Last year, Tony Finau and Xander Schauffele played as did then Tour member Harold Varner III. Varner eventually threw his lot with the LIV series and perhaps the Saudi event helped facilitate that move.
DP World Tour Back In Action:
The DP World Tour returns this week but the Hero Cup is not a regular full-field tournament.
It’s a team competition that will match a team from continental Europe against Great Britain and Ireland.
It will be a chance to European Ryder Cup captain Luke Donald to scout some of his choices for September’s matches.
Jay Monahan Speaks At Tournament Of Champions:
PGA Tour commish Jay Monahan spoke formally on Sunday in Hawaii for the first time since the Tour Championship and, of course, there was talk about LIV Golf.
“We’re at a point now where it’s product versus product,” Monahan said.
“We have our schedule. We’ve laid it out, and we’re going to keep getting better and better and better,” Monahan said. “They have theirs. And we’re going to continue to be the most pro-competitive, aspirational tour in men’s professional golf. What they have is very different from what we have,” he said. “We’re going down our path, and they’re going down theirs.”
Even though the elevated events in 2024 have limited fields, Monahan said he felt it was important that there still be a cut.
“I’ve always felt a cut is important to the sport,” he said. “Depending where we end up in the field, that’s absolutely a consideration.”
Monahan said he expects to announce a fall schedule as early as March during The Players Championship. It will be a chance for some players to secure their status for 2024, and he expects even the top players might want to compete.