SportsWatch: The Masters golf tournament will allow players who joined LIV Golf to compete at Augusta in 2023


Golfers who left the PGA Tour and joined the Saudi-backed LIV Golf are eligible to play at the 2023 Masters tournament.

In June, the PGA Tour suspended golfers who joined the LIV Golf series, but the latter are allowed to play in the three U.S. majors outside of the PGA Championship — the U.S. Open, the Open Championship and the Masters — because those tournaments are not governed by the PGA Tour and have their own organizational and operating bodies.

“Our focus is to honor the tradition of bringing together a preeminent field of golfers this coming April,” Fred Ridley, Chairperson of Augusta National Golf Club, said in a statement. “Therefore, as invitations are sent this week, we will invite those eligible under our current criteria to compete in the 2023 Masters Tournament.”

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Sixteen players who compete in LIV Golf are among the 78 players eligible for the Masters, including Phil Mickelson, Dustin Johnson, Patrick Reed, Sergio Garcia, Bubba Watson, Bryson DeChambeau and Charl Schwartzel.

“As we have said in the past, we look at every aspect of the tournament each year, and any modifications or changes to invitation criteria for future tournaments will be announced in April,” Ridley continued.

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LIV Golf was founded by former pro golfer Greg Norman in an attempt to challenge the PGA Tour. It is funded by Saudi Arabia’s sovereign-wealth fund and so far tournaments have been held at golf courses near Boston, Chicago and Miami in the U.S., as well as internationally in Thailand and Saudi Arabia.

Mickelson was reportedly offered $200 million just to play in the league, and Dustin Johnson was reportedly offered $150 million to play. Those amounts are for participation, and further tournament winnings for LIV Golf events could make payments to those golfers even bigger.

Many of these high-profile golfers have been criticized for joining LIV Golf because of its close relationship with Saudi Arabia.

See also: Trump tells golfers to ‘take the money’ from LIV Golf or ‘pay a big price’

According to the U.S. Department of State, Saudi Arabia has been accused in recent years of multiple human rights violations, including: unlawful killings; executions for nonviolent offenses; forced disappearances; torture and cases of cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment of prisoners and detainees by government agents; harsh and life-threatening prison conditions; arbitrary arrest and detention; and taking political prisoners or detainees, among other offenses.

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