The increasingly bitter divide between LIV Golf and the PGA Tour is now impacting a high-profile event at one of America’s most prestigious clubs. Players who signed with LIV will not be welcome at next month’s Pro-Member tournament at Seminole Golf Club in Juno Beach, Florida.
The field for the Pro-Member — held annually on the Monday after the conclusion of the Honda Classic at nearby PGA National — is often the envy of many Tour stops. The two-person team event draws dozens of the game’s superstars. World No. 1 Rory McIlroy, Justin Thomas, Jon Rahm and Patrick Cantlay played in 2022. Last year’s edition also featured more than a dozen players who later signed with LIV, none of whom will be present at the 2023 Pro-Member on Feb. 27.
The decision not to invite LIV players was made by Jimmy Dunne, the president of Seminole. Dunne played last year with Dustin Johnson, who joined LIV in June. Previously, he partnered with Phil Mickelson, who also left for the Saudi-funded circuit. Dunne is veteran Wall Street figure who lost scores of friends in the September 11 terrorist attack on the World Trade Center, where his company Sandler O’Neill (now known as Piper Sandler) was based. This year he plans to play with Max Homa.
“We are doing what we have always done,” Dunne told Golfweek on Thursday. “PGA Tour players get the first priority. This event has always been supported by the PGA Tour. We try to make this a special and unique day for Tour players.”
Players who defected to LIV were immediately suspended by the PGA Tour and some, including Johnson, resigned their Tour membership. Other LIV players who competed in the ’22 Pro-Member include Bryson DeChambeau, Sergio Garcia, Charl Schwartzel, Ian Poulter, Martin Kaymer and Louis Oosthuizen, who partnered NFL great Tom Brady.
Bubba Watson, Hudson Swafford, Harold Varner III, Peter Uihlein, Andy Ogletree and Cameron Tringale were also in the field.
“Candidly, I have a pretty good relationship with most people,” Dunne said. “These guys had a choice to make, but they’ve made it. That’s it. I’m not going to say something nasty about guys who participated in…
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