Two PGA Tour winners are set to follow former Ryder Cup player Thomas Pieters by defecting over to the Saudi-backed LIV Golf tour, as the sport’s civil war escalates
LIV Golf is set to strike a double blow to the PGA Tour with two more players expected to follow Ryder Cup star Thomas Pieters in joining the Saudi-funded venture.
It has already been widely reported that the Belgian star, a member of the DP World Tour, is set to be unveiled by Greg Norman on Monday. That’s despite the 31-year-old being in contention to play for Team Europe in Rome in September, having recorded four points as a rookie in the 2016 event.
However, he was left irate at not being included in the Genesis Invitational in Los Angeles this week, one of the PGA Tour’s ‘elevated’ events. Reacting to the news, he tweeted: “Sad to miss my favourite tournament of the year. Because well as #34 in the world, I just couldn’t get in.”
But it seems he won’t be the only new name confirmed ahead of LIV’s opening event in Mexico from February 26-28. According to ESPN, PGA Tour winners Danny Lee and Brendan Steele have also accepted big money offers to defect.
American player Steele, 39, has won three times on the PGA Tour, but his last triumph came at the Safeway Open back in 2017. Ranked 122 in the world, unlike Pieters he was offered a spot at the Genesis Invitational but withdrew 48 hours beforehand for personal reasons.
Lee did play at the Riviera Country Club but missed the cut after being three over par for his first two rounds. The world No 259, has one PGA Tour win to his name, the 2015 Greebrier Classic.
Should the moves materialise, both players will be barred from competing in PGA Tour tournaments. The fate of Pieters on the DP World Tour meanwhile, will be decided by the outcome of the five-day Sports Resolution arbitration hearing, that took place this month in London.
The latest developments prove that LIV are intent on maintaining its aggressive pursuit of signings, irrespective of its status in the rankings. And with further legal action ongoing, any form of compromise between the rebel tour and the status quo appears further away than ever.
Only this week though, Greg Norman Jnr moved to deny reports that Brooks Koepka was considering returning to the PGA Tour having regretted signing for LIV for a fee in the region of £83 million last June. The four-time major champion then ended his tournament drought in October, winning the LIV event in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.