Sergio Garcia’s concerned messages about signing up to the controversial Saudi-backed LIV Golf series have been revealed, stating that some stars were ‘s****ing their pants’.
The breakaway event has dominated headlines ever since it was conjured up. Eleven LIV Golf defectors, led by Phil Mickelson and Bryson DeChambeau, filed an antitrust lawsuit against the PGA Tour last week.
The PGA Tour banned the players for signing up to the breakaway tournaments with the 11 rebels claiming they are being punished for playing in the event.
And now Whatsapp messages between Garcia, who has joined the LIV Golf series, and the event’s CEO Greg Norman have emerged.
The exchange has been uncovered in the lawsuit, showing the pair’s conversation about the possibility of LIV golfers being suspended by the PGA tour.
‘I just wanted to see how things are going with the League, cause it seems like a lot of those guys that were loving it and excited about it last week, now are s****ing in their pants,’ Garcia’s message read on February 11, as revealed by Golf Magazine.
Norman replied: ‘Morning. All going very well. I have not heard the white noise of s****ing their pants. Who are you referencing so I can run a check?’
Garcia expressed his fear that some of the ‘younger’ players were successfully ‘scared’ by the PGA Tour.
‘If you have names I can reach out to them,’ Norman said in response.
‘In regards to the Tour if they were going to ban players they would have already. They know they cannot hence no action outside of verbal threats. If you can get them or any player threatened to get it [in writing] fantastic. Thanks.’
Major players have and continue to be tempted away from the long-established tours by the ludicrous sums of money on offer, with the breakaway being backed by $2billion of Saudi money and the total prize money pot across eight events amounting to around £205million.
Garcia’s concern about being punished for deferring to the LIV Tour continued on February 17.
His message read: ‘It’s official. Tour has told our managers this week that whoever signs with the League, is ban[ned] from the Tour for life! I don’t know how are we gonna get enough good players to join the League under [these] conditions. What do you think.’
But chief Norman was not worried and reassured Garcia that the PGA Tour could not inflict that punishment.
‘They cannot ban you for one day let alone life,’ he responded. ‘It is a shallow threat. Ask them to put it in writing to you or any player. I bet they don’t. Happy for anyone to speak with our legal team to better understand they have no chance of enforcing.
‘Who said there would be a lifetime ban? And to whom? You? Or your agent? What are they saying specifically? Important to know these facts. Also I will get something to show you why they cannot.’
Garcia explained where the threat came from and expressed his doubt over being able to get it in writing.
‘The commissioner had a meeting with the 5 or 6 biggest agencies of golf managers, mine included, and first told them that if any of their players had signed with the [LIV] league, that they should leave the room and after that they talked about what the [PGA Tour] is going to do going forward and that whoever signs with [LIV] they would be [banned] from the [PGA Tour] for life. I would love to get it in writing but I doubt they will do that,’ the Spaniard wrote back.
The Saudi rebels’ bombshell lawsuit has claimed their suspension from the Tour would cause their careers ‘irreparable harm’.
The lawsuit read: ‘As part of its carefully orchestrated plan to defeat competition, the Tour has threatened lifetime bans on players who play in even a single LIV Golf event.
‘It has backed up these threats by imposing unprecedented suspensions on players (including the Plaintiffs) that threaten irreparable harm to the players and their ability to pursue their profession.’
PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan previously responded to the lawsuit with a terse memo to his players in which he referred to ’11 of your former colleagues’ suing the tour and continued to refer to LIV Golf as the ‘Saudi Golf League.’
Monahan said players knew the consequences of signing up for the rival league.
‘We have been preparing to protect our membership and contest this latest attempt to disrupt our tour, and you should be confident in the legal merits of our position,’ Monahan wrote.
‘Fundamentally, these suspended players – who are now Saudi Golf League employees – have walked away from the tour and now want back in,’ he wrote.
‘It’s an attempt to use the tour platform to promote themselves and to freeride on your benefits and efforts.’