Sergio Garcia Overheard Saying 'I Can't Wait to Leave This Tour' on PGA BroadcastMay 5, 2022
Sergio Garcia has been among the rumored golfers set to leave the PGA Tour for the Saudi-backed LIV Golf series, and a moment during Thursday's Wells Fargo Championship lent credence to the reports.
Per Joel Beall of GolfDigest.com, Garcia had a dispute with the rules official and was heard saying to him, "I can’t wait to leave this tour."
He wasn't done there, adding "Can’t wait to get out of here," and "Just a couple more weeks until I don’t have to deal with [the rules official] anymore."
Garcia, who had hit his ball into a penalty area at the time of the exchange, was unhappy with the rules official for determining that he had exceeded the three minutes he was allowed to find his ball, arguing he was given a fast clock. The ruling meant that Garcia, who found the ball, couldn't play his initial one.
As for the Saudi-backed circuit, Phil Mickelson has already applied to play, while Garcia and 2013 Masters champ Adam Scott have been rumored defectors. Lee Westwood and Ian Poulter have also been rumored as Saudi targets.
The Saudi tour is also looking to poach intriguing young talents, with Christy Doran of Fox Sports reporting that "amateurs are being guaranteed [$118,646] paydays at the first seven events and the opportunity to compete for the [$3.9 million] first prize offering at each of the tournaments as well as the monster [$89.5 million] up for grabs as part of the team prizes.
As for the PGA Tour's response, the organizing body has threatened to ban any defecting players from its events, and those players may also be banned from the Ryder Cup.
Detractors of the Saudi-backed LIV Golf have called it a sportswashing exercise, an effort for Saudi Arabia to improve its worldwide reputation despite its history of human rights violations. The Public Investment Fund of Saudi Arabia currently owns an 80 percent stake in the Premier League's Newcastle United, for example, and has hosted golf's Saudi International since 2019.
"They're scary motherf--kers to get involved with," Mickelson said in an interview last year regarding Saudi Arabia. "We know they killed [Washington Post reporter and U.S. resident Jamal] Khashoggi and have a horrible record on human rights. They execute people over there for being gay. Knowing all of this, why would I even consider it? Because this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to reshape how the PGA Tour operates."
He was criticized heavily for those comments, including by PGA Tour star Rory McIlroy.
"I don't want to kick someone while he's down obviously, but I thought they were naive, selfish, egotistical, ignorant," McIlroy said of the remarks at the time. "A lot of words to describe that interaction he had. It was just very surprising and disappointing, sad. I'm sure he's sitting at home sort of rethinking his position and where he goes from here."