PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan described the LIV Golf Invitational as a "series of exhibition matches" while defending his decision to suspend players who defected to the breakaway series.

Charl Schwartzel, who won the inaugural LIV event near London this weekend, has been suspended from the PGA Tour along with the likes of Dustin Johnson, Phil Mickelson and Sergio Garcia for their involvement in the series.

The LIV series is set to hold eight 54-hole, no-cut tournaments with 48-man fields this year, with players not only earning significantly higher prize money, but taking substantial sign-on fees. Bryson DeChambeau and Patrick Reed have been the latest to defect.

Asked why golfers cannot compete on both tours, Monahan took an assertive stance.

"Why do they need us so badly? Those players have chosen to sign multi-year, lucrative contracts to play in a series of exhibition matches against the same players over and over again," he said on CBS' broadcast of the Canadian Open.

"You look at that versus what we see here today, and that's why they need us so badly.

"You've got true, pure competition, the best players in the world here at the RBC Canadian Open, with millions of fans watching. And in this game, it's true and pure competition that creates the profiles and presences of the world's greatest players."

Monahan was particularly critical of LIV's source of investment, with the Public Investment Fund in Saudi Arabia which has been accused of sports washing and using the tour to take attention away from a history of human rights abuses.

He also said players who defected would "have to be living under a rock" to not consider that context, but chose instead to relate the significant outlay to sign players and hold events to the potential return on investment.

"It’s not an issue for me, because I don’t work for the Saudi Arabian government," Monahan said. "But it probably is an issue for players who chose to go and take that money. I think you have to ask yourself the question, why?

"Why is this group spending so much money — billions of dollars — recruiting players and chasing a concept with no possibility of a return? At the same time, there’s been a lot of questions, a lot of comments, about the growth of the game. And I ask, how is this good for the game?

"I would ask any player that has left, or any player that would consider leaving, have you ever had to apologise for being a member of the PGA Tour?"

Rory McIlroy saved his best for last to defend his Canadian Open title on Sunday and could not resist a sly dig at LIV Golf chief executive Greg Norman afterwards.

At the end of a chaotic week for the sport, with the controversial Saudi-backed LIV Golf Invitational Series commencing in competition with the PGA Tour, McIlroy posted his best round of the tournament at St. George's with an eight-under 62.

Playing in the final group with Tony Finau and Justin Thomas, the 33-year-old finished on 19-under for the tournament in front of a packed gallery and secured his 21st PGA Tour win, moving him ahead of Norman's 20.

Though evidently happy he secured the win heading into the U.S. Open, as one of the more vocal critics of LIV Golf, the world number eight made sure everyone knew he was aware he had overtaken Norman.

"Twenty-first PGA Tour win. One more than someone else," he told CBS. "That gave me a little bit of extra incentive today. Happy to get it done.

"It's incredible. Playing with Tony [Finau] and JT [Thomas], two of the top players in the world, and all of us playing the way we did, the worst score in the group was six-under par.

"This is a day I'll remember for a long, long time. I've sort of rededicated myself to the game a little bit, sort of realised what made me happy and this makes me happy."

McIlroy led the entire way on Sunday, starting the final round in a share of the lead with Finau.

He started fast, too, making five birdies on the front nine before commencing the back nine with another three on the bounce.

Bogeys on the 13th and 16th holes opened the door for Thomas and Finau but it was promptly shut, with the Northern Irishman closing out the round with another pair of birdies.

Finau and Thomas finished outright second and third on 17- and 15-under respectively, while Justin Rose tied Sam Burns on 14-under after bogeying the 18th to just miss out on a spectacular sub-60 score.

Tony Finau birdied the final hole for an eight-under 62 on Saturday to share the lead with Rory McIlroy, coming into the final round of the Canadian Open.

Finau had the best round of the tournament so far, scoring an eagle on the par-five ninth before making four birdies on the back nine.

The 32-year-old is looking for only his third PGA Tour victory, with his last win coming in a playoff over Cameron Smith in last year's Northern Trust.

McIlroy had a tricky uphill putt to also birdie on the 18th hole, despite an exceptional approach to set it up, but he had to ultimately two-putt to finish the round after his birdie attempt skimmed over the edge of the cup.

The 33-year-old has been in confident touch at St. George's this week and continued that on Saturday, posting a five-under 65 with assertive driving and wedge-play.

After a bogey on the par-three eighth, the Northern Irishman responded with three birdies over the next four holes, before managing another birdie on the par-five 15th.

The final hole would have been an apt punctuation mark for his third round, after scores of 66 and 68 over the opening two days.

McIlroy has had to wait three years to defend his 2019 title, with the Covid-19 pandemic forcing a cancellation of the tournament in 2020 and 2021.

He is among five players ranked in the world's top ten in a high-profile field at Toronto, coming into next weekend's U.S. Open, with Justin Thomas and Sam Burns joined by Wyndham Clark and Alex Smalley on nine-under.

Cameron Smith has recovered from an opening-round six-over 76 to finish on one-under after 54 holes, posting a 68 on Saturday, while world number one Scottie Scheffler scored a disappointing 71.

Patrick Reed has joined the LIV Golf Invitational Series and become the latest high-profile name to turn their back on the PGA Tour. 

It was confirmed on Saturday that the 2018 Masters champion had signed up for the Saudi Arabia-backed circuit, which was this week joined by Bryson DeChambeau and had Phil Mickelson and Dustin Johnson contesting its inaugural event this weekend. 

Reed is set to make his first appearance when the series travels to Portland for the second of its eight events later this month. 

LIV Golf CEO and commissioner Greg Norman said: "The growing roster of LIV Golf players gets even stronger today with a player of Patrick Reed's calibre. 

"He has a proven track record as one of the most consistent competitors in pro golf and adds yet another big presence at our tournaments. 

"He's a major champion who has had a significant impact playing international team competitions, and he'll bring another impressive dynamic to our team-based format at LIV Golf." 

Reed has slipped to 36th in the world rankings having only made his first top-10 finish of 2022 at the Charles Schwab Challenge in May. 

He will now be ineligible for any tournaments on the PGA Tour after it was this week confirmed all players competing at any LIV Golf events would be indefinitely suspended. 

However, Rickie Fowler and Bubba Watson are among another group of players reportedly set to make the switch to LIV Golf, which now boasts a field that includes nine major champions. 

Wyndham Clark was able to hold onto his outright lead at the Canadian Open with an even par second round on Friday, one stroke ahead of Rory McIlroy and the chasing field.

Clark remains at seven under after a spectacular 63 on Thursday, posting three birdies and three bogeys on his second trip around the course.

McIlroy headlines the five-man group at six under, along with American trio Keith Mitchell, Jim Knous and Alex Smalley, as well as England's Matt Fitzpatrick, who closed his round with three consecutive bogeys to surrender the lead.

Alone at five under in outright seventh is Austin Cook, who posted Friday's round of the day with his six-under 64, going bogey-free with six birdies to vault himself into contention after entering play at one over.

Scottie Scheffler and Sam Burns are in a logjam at four under, as is Shane Lowry, while Tony Finau and Harold Varner III are one further back at three under, rounding out the top-20.

Justin Thomas shot his second consecutive 69 to head into the weekend at two under, while English trio Danny Willett, Justin Rose and Aaron Rai sit at one under.

The second-best score of the round belonged to Cameron Smith, who shot a 65 to land right on the cut-line after a calamitous 76 in his opener.

Rory Sabbatini and Stuart McDonald missed the cut by one stroke, while Camilo Villegas was a further shot back after going five over on his last four holes.

Bryson DeChambeau has become the latest high-profile player to shun the PGA Tour and join the Saudi-backed LIV Golf Invitational Series.

The 2020 US Open winner, who has eight PGA Tour titles to his name in total, joins the likes of Phil Mickelson and Dustin Johnson in switching to the rival circuit.

DeChambeau's involvement was made official on Friday by LIV Golf, which launched with its first event on the outskirts of London on Thursday.

His first appearance will be in the second of the eight-series event in Portland later this month.

LIV Golf chief executive Greg Norman said in a statement: "Bryson DeChambeau is an exciting addition to LIV Golf's supercharged style of play. 

"He is passionate about the sport, innovative in his approach and committed to pushing the boundaries in pursuit of excellence.

"He's not afraid to think outside the box and supports our mission of doing things differently to grow our game.

"The power and energy he brings to the course will deliver added electricity to our competition in Portland and beyond."

DeChambeau is currently 28th in the world rankings after slipping out of the top 10, where he had spent most of the past two years, due to a niggling injury issue.

The American missed the cut at last week's Memorial Tournament and will now be blocked from competing in any further PGA Tour events, likely including next week's U.S. Open.

That comes after the Tour confirmed on Thursday that all players competing in the opening event this week, and any who play in future events, are indefinitely suspended.

DeChambeau is the eighth major champion to defect to LIV Golf, along with Sergio Garcia, Johnson, Mickelson, Martin Kaymer, Graeme McDowell, Louis Oosthuizen and Charl Schwartzel.

Wyndham Clark leads the Canadian Open after the first round of play, shooting a seven-under 63 in Toronto on Thursday.

Amid an awkward atmosphere around the course with LIV Golf's commencement outside London on Thursday and suspension for players part of the rebel tour, Clark was able to hold his lead against the afternoon wave of players.

After securing a berth at next weekend's U.S. Open in a qualifier on Monday, the 28-year-old carried some confidence into the opening day at St. George's Golf and Country Club, starting with five birdies on the opening nine.

He went bogey-free on the closing nine holes, scoring birdies on the par-four fourth and seventh holes.

Ian Poulter and Graeme McDowell have hit out at the PGA Tour for their handling of players who have decided to participate in LIV Golf, calling it a "power struggle".

The PGA Tour made the bold move of waiting until after the first LIV Golf event in London had teed off before announcing that any player who participates in the Saudi-backed promotion is "suspended or otherwise no longer eligible to participate in PGA Tour tournament play, including the President's Cup."

In the first round of LIV Golf's debut event, Charl Schwartzel earned the outright lead at five under, trailed by Hennie Du Plessis at four under, while Dustin Johnson and Phil Mickelson were also among the 10 players to finish under par.

Speaking after the round, Poulter strongly disagreed with the PGA Tour's decision to force players to choose between the tours.

"I've played a lot of tournaments all around the world, this event is no different," he said. "It's a shame if they view this as something different.

"I will appeal for sure. It makes no sense. Having two tour cards and the ability to play golf all over the world, what's wrong with that? I believe I've been given permission in the past to play in events around the world.

"I don't know why [the decision was made] – we can all make assumptions as to why. Competition is probably the real reason. It's a power struggle, and it's just disappointing."

Fellow U.K. golfer McDowell echoed Poulter's sentiments, saying it is ridiculous that they are not allowed to compete in events relatively local to them.

"Some guys believe that they shouldn't be in the situation where they have to resign," he said. "They don't feel like they are doing anything wrong. 

"We haven't been issued releases, [but] we feel like we should have been issued releases. We've done it for the last 20 years, operated all over the world.

"We're in the U.K – you've players like myself and Ian Poulter and Lee Westwood, we are in our home markets here.

"We should be allowed to operate here as professional golfers. But hey, we all know the situation is about something bigger.

"It's competition and it's not liked. They are having to play the game the way they feel they have to play it, which is playing hard ball.

"We feel confident that we are well-protected and we are going to just try and do our best."

Rory McIlroy and Justin Thomas have supported the PGA Tour's decision to suspend all players competing in the LIV Golf Invitational Series.

PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan sent a memo to all members on Thursday confirming the news, shortly after LIV Golf's first event had launched at Centurion Club near London.

All 17 Tour members competing in the first Saudi-backed tournament of the breakaway series, including six-time major winner Phil Mickelson, were informed they are no longer eligible to play in events on the circuit.

The memo warned that any player featuring in future LIV events will face a similar punishment.

McIlroy said on Wednesday he understands why some have made the switch due to the huge sums of money on offer, but the Northern Irishman is pleased with the decision to block players from competing on both circuits.

"I think at this point, Jay [Monahan] has been pretty transparent in terms of he's just going to act within the tournament regulations and the rules that are set for a PGA Tour member," McIlroy said.

"All he's doing is basically going by the book. I think that the majority of the membership that are here this week and that haven't gone and played elsewhere really appreciate that.

"So, I think he's done the right thing because these guys have broken rules and done things outside of the tournament regulations, and because of that, there are going to be consequences, I guess."

McIlroy was speaking after carding an opening-round 66 at the RBC Canadian Open on Thursday, with Thomas three shots further back.

While the four-time major winner is against the idea of the breakaway series, he will be tuning in out of curiosity.

"I think like everyone else, I'm intrigued and I'm a fan of golf," McIlroy said. "I've got quite a few guys over there that I call friends that are playing. 

"Yeah, of course I'll see it and watch it and see what all the fuss is about."

Mickelson is the highest-profile casualty of Thursday's announcement, with Dustin Johnson and Sergio Garcia having already notified the Tour that they have resigned their membership.

Louis Oosthuizen, Lee Westwood and Ian Poulter are among the other notable names featuring at the three-day LIV Golf Invitational London event that will have 12 teams and 48 players.

Echoing the comments made by McIlroy, Thomas said: "I'm pleased. I think anybody that's shocked clearly hasn't been listening to the message that Jay and everybody's been putting out. They took that risk going into it, whether they thought it was a risk or not.

"Like I've said the whole time, I have great belief and great confidence in the PGA Tour and where we're going and continuing to grow to, and those guys just aren't going to be a part of it.

"[LIV Golf] are obviously throwing so much money at people that it's very hard to turn down. I don't care what you say in terms of that people play for different reasons. It doesn't matter who you are or what it is, everything has a number.

"They're reaching that number for some people, and I hope that they don't get others. But I think a very strong core group of us is very stable and firm in our position, and I hope that it stays that way."

Bryson DeChambeau will be the next superstar to sign up to the LIV Golf Invitational Series, his agent has confirmed.

Brett Falkoff confirmed DeChambeau's involvement on a rollercoaster first day for LIV Golf, which launched with the first round of its first event in London on Thursday.

Reports had revealed DeChambeau and Patrick Reed would be joining the controversial breakaway league.

There was still no announcement from LIV Golf, but Falkoff said in a statement reported by GolfChannel.com: "Bryson has always been an innovator.

"Having the opportunity to get in on the ground floor of something unique has always been intriguing to him. Professional golf as we know it is changing and it's happening quickly."

DeChambeau does not intend to resign from the PGA Tour, the same website reported, although he may have no choice in the matter.

The Tour suspended all players involved in the LIV Golf Invitational London, including the returning Phil Mickelson.

During Thursday's first round, LIV Golf responded in a statement, saying: "Today's announcement by the PGA Tour is vindictive and it deeps 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.

"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."

The PGA Tour has suspended the 17 members who are playing in the first event of the controversial LIV Golf Invitational Series.

The news was confirmed in a memo signed by Tour commissioner Jay Monahan on Thursday.

Phil Mickelson, Dustin Johnson and Sergio Garcia are among the players to have been suspended, though the latter two are among those who have notified the Tour of that they have resigned their membership.

Louis Oosthuizen, Lee Westwood and Ian Poulter are also among the other notable names featuring at the three-day event that will have 12 teams and 48 players

Graeme McDowell, Kevin Na, Charl Schwartzel, Hudson Swafford, Talor Gooch, Branden Grace, Matt Jones, Andy Ogletree, Peter Uihlein and Turk Pettit are the others included in the memo.

Monahan confirmed the decision to prohibit those players from playing on all features of the PGA Tour, including the Korn Ferry Tour, PGA Tour Champions, PGA Tour Canada and PGA Tour Latinoamerica.

The breakaway golfers will also be removed from the FedEx Cup rankings following this week's RBC Canadian Open and will not be eligible for the FedEx Cup or Presidents Cup.

"These players have made their choice for their own financial-based reasons. But they can't demand the same PGA Tour membership benefits, considerations, opportunities and platforms as you," the memo read. 

"That expectation disrespects you, our fans and our partners."

Garcia, Westwood and Johnson were among 10 players to resign from the Tour to pursue their LIV Golf interests, but Monahan added they will not be granted sponsor exemptions to play in tournaments as non-members.

Bryson DeChambeau and Patrick Reed have been widely reported to have signed up to the lucrative series, though neither are playing this weekend.

Monahan said any players who do take part in future LIV events will face the same consequences.

The decision comes amid the widespread backlash against the controversial, Saudi Arabia-backed breakaway, with many accusing the event of sportswashing.

Greg Norman, a two-time Open champion and LIV Golf's CEO, suggested Saudi Arabia is "making a cultural change".

Mickelson found himself at the centre of the controversy last year when admitting to being aware of Saudi Arabia's human-rights record but signed up to LIV Golf anyway because "this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to reshape how the PGA Tour operates".

On the eve of the first tournament, Mickelson received a grilling from the media, and he told reporters: "I don't condone human rights violations, I don't know how I can be any more clear.

"I understand your question but again I love this game of golf, I've seen the good it's done and I see the opportunity for LIV Golf to do a lot of good for the game over the world and I'm excited to be a part of this opportunity."

World number 17 Johnson is the highest-ranked player on the current LIV Golf list and acknowledged he did not initially know the repercussions of his decision, but said he had chosen "what's best for me and my family".

The PGA Tour has suspended the 17 members who are playing in the first event of the controversial LIV Golf Invitational Series.

The news was confirmed in a memo signed by Tour commissioner Jay Monahan on Thursday.

Phil Mickelson, Dustin Johnson and Sergio Garcia are among the players to have been suspended, though the latter two are among those who have notified the Tour of that they have resigned their membership.

Rory McIlroy has reiterated he has no interest in joining the Saudi-backed LIV Golf Invitational Series and believes decisions made purely based on money "usually doesn't end up going the right way."

Dustin Johnson and Phil Mickelson this week quit the PGA Tour after agreeing massive paydays to join the breakaway LIV Tour.

Bryson DeChambeau is reportedly set to follow for the second event of the series, which starts in Portland later this month, while Patrick Reed and Rickie Fowler are also said to be ready to sign up.

Ian Poulter, Sergio Garcia and Lee Westwood are among the other players who will tee off in the first LIV Tour event at Centurion Golf Club on Thursday.

McIlroy has made it clear he is committed to the PGA Tour and will defend his Canadian Open title this week.

The four-time major champion says he would rather compete against the best players in the world than be tempted by wherever he could maximise his earnings.

"I think my stance on it has been pretty clear from the start. It's not something that I want to participate in," said McIlroy.

"I certainly understand the guys that went and understand what their goals and their ambitions are in their life, and I'm certainly not knocking anyone for going.

"It is their life. It is their decision. They can live it the way they want to, but, for me, I want to play on the PGA Tour against the best players in the world.

"I was speaking to a few people yesterday and one of the comments was any decision that you make in your life that is purely for money usually doesn't end up going the right way.

"Obviously, money is a deciding factor in a lot of things in this world but if it is purely for money, it never seems to go the way you want it to, and I've had that before a couple of times before in my life.

"There are other things that are a part of it too, but it is a weird time in professional golf. I said it a couple of weeks ago, we are just going to have to see how this season plays out, and if any other guys do decide to go another direction than the established tours, see what the consequences are.

"For me right now, I can only speak personally. It is not something I envisage ever doing and I'm happy playing on the PGA Tour. I have a nice schedule, but I can pick for myself.

"I can spend a lot of time at home with my family if I want to, prioritise the majors and there is nothing about my schedule or my life or my earnings or anything that I would change."

Ian Poulter and Lee Westwood on Wednesday faced a grilling over their participation in the Saudi-backed LIV Golf Invitational Series that they hope will not end their Ryder Cup days.

The English duo will tee off at Centurion Golf Club when the first event of the controversial breakaway tour starts on Thursday.

Dustin Johnson and Phil Mickelson this week quit the PGA Tour after agreeing huge offers to join the LIV Tour.

Westwood and Poulter were quizzed over their morals as they became the latest players to be asked about Saudi Arabia's human rights record.

When asked if he would play in a tournament organised by Russian president Vladimir Putin, Poulter said: "I'm not even going to comment on speculation" before refusing to answer when quizzed if there is anywhere he would not play on a moral basis.

Westwood then replied "you're just asking us to a hypothetical question there and I'm not going to your answer" after being asked if he would have played in Apartheid South Africa.

Signing up to the LIV Tour has led to uncertainty over whether Ryder Cup stalwarts Westwood and Poulter were ruling themselves out of representing Europe again.

Poulter said: "We don't know [if they could be involved in the Ryder Cup]. I'd like to think it wouldn't [prevent them from being involved], all the golf I've played around the world in all the different countries and tours I don't see why this should be any different.

"It's an unknown risk, we don't know how DP World Tour will view it, it's obviously a factor."

Westwood, who pointed out that he has played on European Tour events in Saudi Arabia, said: "It's something I have to take into account. I'm not sure about the playing days, I'm 50 next April. The captaincy could be in jeopardy as well, but Ian pretty much covered it all.

"What I will say is myself and Ian have been members of the PGA Tour while we've been on the European Tour and that's had no effect in the past on whether people have been captains.

"LIV Golf is another tour so why should it be any different?"

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