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FILE – PGA Tour Commission Jay Monahan is pictured during a news conference Friday, March 13, 2020, in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla. The PGA Tour is denying releases to golfers who have applied to play in the first of a series of Saudi-funded tournaments next month in England, a bold move by commissioner Jay Monahan to try to quash the latest offer from Greg Norman to launch a lucrative rival league. (AP Photo/Chris O’Meara, File)

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Lee Westwood and Ian Poulter would not discuss the PGA Tour’s decision to deny releases to members who applied to play in the first of a series of Saudi-funded tournaments next month in England.

Tour devotees were happy to weigh in at the Byron Nelson on Wednesday, the day before the Dallas-area event. Their theme: more power for anyone who wants to join Greg Norman’s latest bid to create a lucrative rival league.

“Listen, if you want to go, go,” said Justin Thomas, the No. 8 player in the world. “There’s been a lot of guys who have been the advocates for it and have talked about it all the time and they’ve been guys behind the scenes saying, ‘I’m going, I’m doing this.

“And, like, my whole thing is, like, go ahead then,” Thomas said. “Stop the back and forth. Everyone has the right to do what they want. »

Westwood, who confirmed he had sought releases from the PGA and European tours, responded to a reporter saying he knew what would be asked and did not want to answer questions about it.

Poulter is among those identified by the Daily Telegraph as seeking releases. He hopped in a golf cart after his Nelson pro-am round and said he had to be somewhere.

The first LIV Golf Invitational is scheduled for June 9-11 at Centurion Golf Club outside London, with a field of 48 players competing for a $20 million purse over 54 holes. The winner receives $4 million – golf’s richest prize to date – and the last place finisher receives $120,000.

While PGA Tour guidelines allow three adversarial event exits per year for overseas tournaments, it viewed LIV’s debut differently as the first of eight $20 million events (five of them are planned in the United States) with a clear indication that it is the start of a new league.

Westwood isn’t the only player on the European tour looking for an exit. The European tour said in a statement that it “evaluates each request on a case-by-case basis and will match our decision with each individual member in due course.”

Norman, meanwhile, held a media day at the Centurion and said he was ready to support the players if they needed help.

“We’re going to support our players, we’re going to be there for them no matter what,” Norman said, according to the Daily Telegraph. “I said to the players, ‘It’s your choice. If you want to stay exclusively with the PGA Tour, happy days, go for it.

“But I also said to the players, ‘We have your back.’ Simple, we will defend them, we will reimburse them and we will represent them.

The PGA Tour notified players seeking information about commissioner Jay Monahan’s decision on Tuesday, then informed all players of the decision in a short memo, which was obtained by The Associated Press.

“I think Jay was very clear from the start about what was going to happen,” Thomas said. “I think a lot of people are probably like, ‘I can’t believe you did that,’ or, ‘Wow, you went through that.’ But that’s what he said was going to happen all along.

Will Zalatoris said he was a member of the players’ advisory council and said the group had had “a lot of talk” about the Saudi-backed league. He said the decision was the “perfect answer”.

“If you want to do it, nobody’s stopping you,” Zalatoris, 25, said. “But what we have here is also very good considering every week we play for a pretty good purse on some really good golf courses and considering the benefits we have off the golf course on top of that . It’s pretty hard to beat.

Although the names of the players who signed up have not been officially released, Phil Mickelson said through his agent that he had requested a conflicting event release for the London event. The Daily Telegraph reported that Sergio Garcia and Martin Kaymer were also among those seeking release.

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AP Golf Writer Doug Ferguson contributed to this report.

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