Harold Varner III will not be joining the LIV Golf Series, according to a report in the Sports Business Journal.
Varner won this year’s Saudi International and had been tipped to follow in the footsteps of several of his American counterparts who have signed up to the Saudi-backed breakaway circuit, but made the “tough decision” to remain loyal to the PGA Tour after consulting NBA legend Michael Jordan.
The 31-year-old is sponsored by Jordan and can be seen wearing the iconic ‘Jumpman’ logo whenever he tees it up, but insists their relationship has “extended to a friendship as well.”
“It helps because I’m sure he’s had decisions like this long before I was even born,” Varner said. “I’m obviously not going [to LIV Golf]. I’ve spoken with Jay [Monahan]I’ve spoken with a lot of people I look up to and it just wasn’t worth it to me for what it was worth.”
The LIV Golf Series continues to hit the headlines amid accusations it is being used to sportswash Saudi Arabia’s human rights record. However, that hasn’t deterred the likes of Phil Mickelson, Dustin Johnson and Bryson DeChambeau, all of whom have reportedly signed exorbitant contracts to headline the $255 million eight-event series.
Despite the controversy, Varner admits he is “concerned” the two tours are “not working the situation out” and has urged Monahan to “at least talk to the other side.”
Instead, the PGA Tour commissioner has gone on the offensive. When play got underway at the inaugural LIV Golf Invitational London at the Centurion Club, the PGA Tour announced it was suspending all members involved in any current or future LIV Golf tournaments.
To combat the threat, Golf Monthly revealed the PGA Tour is in advanced talks to buy the DP World Tour, but Varner insists if he were in charge he would take a different approach.
“If you wanted to come to take over HV III (Varner’s foundation) I’d say like let’s talk this out,” Varner added. “There’s people down there that are in the middle that didn’t get an offer from LIV, that are very important for the PGA Tour. I think it’d be very important to hear their thoughts. It’s eye-opening to me.”
While the PGA Tour has made its position on the matter very clear, the DP World Tour has so far been notable for its silence. However, a spokesperson did confirm LIV Golf players would be allowed to tee it up in next week’s BMW International Open.