Should Saudi Super Golf League Players Be Blackballed?
With the Saudi International golf tournament taking place in February, the controversy over a potential breakaway league masterminded by the Gulf nation looks set to intensify in the coming weeks and months. The idea of a Saudi Super Golf League (SGL) – formerly known as the Premier Golf League – has been brewing for several years now.
However, with the Saudi International in its fourth incarnation this year, and with negotiations between high-profile players and the organisers of the SGL rumored to be gaining pace, it’s expected that the situation will come to a head in 2022. For their part, the PGA Tour have been unequivocal in their stance that they will not tolerate any defection.
An uncompromising position
The commissioner of the PGA Tour Jay Monahan has been unwavering in his attitude towards the Saudi league, stating from the outset that any player who joined the league would receive an immediate suspension. Monahan also threatened that such rebels would risk an outright career ban from all future PGA Tour events, which would preclude them from entering prestigious competitions including the Ryder Cup.
There was even speculation that Monahan would deny players the opportunity to play in the Saudi International this year. That would have created discomfort among those who had already played in it in previous years and received healthy paychecks for doing so, though a last-minute U-turn resulted in waivers being given to some of the sport’s biggest names.
The case for the defense
One of those is Spanish veteran Sergio Garcia, who has also presented perhaps the most vocal argument for allowing players to compete in the new breakaway league of all those still competing today. Earlier this year, Garcia said that banning players for joining the SGL would only damage the game in the long run and would not be beneficial for anyone involved.
“When you get banned from playing, or whatever, it hurts the game,” he remarked. “People want to see us play all around the world and enjoy us wherever we go. We’ve never really needed a release to play anywhere. We play all over the world all the time. So it’s one of those situations which just happened this year but hopefully we move on and find a good way for everyone.”
Sceptics might suspect Garcia of simply pleading to allow himself and his fellow players access to a major paycheck, with fellow pros Dustin Johnson, Phil Mickelson, Bryson DeChambeau and Justin Rose all rumored to be involved in negotiations with the SGL. If they were to defect and subsequently receive a lifetime ban from the PGA Tour, it would certainly play havoc with the odds offered by the best golf betting sites in 2022, as many of the main challengers would be out of the picture.
On the other hand, not all golfers are enthusiastic about the prospect of the SGL. Quite aside from the moral implications of association with the Saudi government, Rory McIlroy has raised concerns about how it might impact the integrity of the sport. If players are guaranteed astronomical sums just for turning up, they might not find themselves as motivated to outperform their rivals, according to McIlroy.
At the present time, we seem to be at something of an impasse regarding the SGL, with neither party giving in an inch in its current position. Will golfers be banned? Should they be? Let us know what you think.