PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan confirmed to the media during the Sentry Tournament of Champions - won by Jon Rahm - that the American circuit had granted "a few" members permission to play in the forthcoming event on the Asian Tour.
What makes the Saudi International problematic for the PGA Tour is the fact that it is held at the same time as the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am.
Players have been asking for releases into this event for years. It was previously held on the European Tour.
Now it represents the flagship event on the Asian Tour, but the tour's International Series is bankrolled by the Public Investment Fund of Saudi Arabia.
PIF are bankrolling the breakaway LIV Golf League.
Therefore, it makes this year feel different with regard to PGA Tour players asking for permission to play.
The tournament has a massive prize purse but players have also been beckoned to the kingdom with the addition of astronomical appearance fees.
Before LIV Golf officially launched in June 2022, the PGA Tour granted releases for the February tournament providing players commit to Pebble Beach in some capacity going forward.
A large number of players who played last year now participate in the LIV Golf League, including the likes of Cameron Smith, Dustin Johnson, Harold Varner III, Bubba Watson, Matthew Wolff, Patrick Reed and Joaquin Niemann.
Monahan refused to say which players had asked for 2023 releases but confirmed they treated the release requests "in the same same manner that they were in 2022".
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Chamblee took issue with this and discussed the topic on Golf Channel.
Watch the clip here:
There are great many things tough to stomach about sportswashing, besides the source of the money. Sportswashing changes the nature of sport where athletes are motivated to improve, making it a much better experience for the spectators. @RichLernerGC and I kicked this around. pic.twitter.com/yxecXpskoT— Brandel Chamblee (@chambleebrandel) January 7, 2023
The Saudi International will take place over February 2-5 at Royal Greens Golf & Country Club in Jeddah.
Harold Varner is the defending champion. He won the tournament on the 72nd hole last year when he drained a 90-foot eagle putt.
The PGA Tour has indefinitely suspended members who have played in LIV Golf events.
Open champion Smith has already committed to the tournament.