Kevin Na’s LIV Golf decision leaves PGA Tour stars puzzled

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Rory McIlroy and Billy Horschel were befuddled by Kevin Na’s decision to resign from the PGA Tour in favor of playing on the Saudi-backed LIV Golf tour, joining the likes of Dustin Johnson and Graeme McDowell.

Na explained Saturday he was simply exercising his right to “choose where and when I play golf” and couldn’t do it if he was going to face discipline from the PGA Tour.

Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland watches his shot from the first fairway during the third round of the Memorial golf tournament Saturday, June 4, 2022, in Dublin, Ohio.
(AP Photo/Darron Cummings)

At Memorial, McIlroy and Horschel couldn’t wrap their heads around the decision.

“I really don’t understand the decision at this point,” McIlroy said, via Golf Digest, adding he thought Na was possibly “protecting himself down the road” from a legal issue.

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“Look, I get it for Kevin. He’s never been … he’s qualified for the Open championship a few times and not gone over. He likes to do what he likes to do, and he’s his own person. No, I’m not surprised .”

Horschel said he’s always thought if a golfer competes in the minimum 15 required tournaments he should be able to play in whatever outside event he chooses.

“Did he resign because he didn’t want to go down the legal route? If the legal route leads to something like a ban from the PGA Tour, I don’t think the tour can pull our pension … or whatever,” Horschel said .

“There must be something in there that he thought this is the best thing for him, to resign. If I were him, I would stand my ground a little bit. Any way this goes, though, I don’t think this is a great look for golf right now.”

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Billy Horschel drives from the 15th tee during the third round of the Memorial golf tournament Saturday, June 4, 2022, in Dublin, Ohio.

Billy Horschel drives from the 15th tee during the third round of the Memorial golf tournament Saturday, June 4, 2022, in Dublin, Ohio.
(AP Photo/Darron Cummings)

The Korean American golfer has had five PGA Tour victories in his career. His best finish was seventh place at the 2016 US Open.

He made his announcement ahead of LIV Golf’s opening tournament in London next week.

“I appreciated the platform the tour has provided me to play the game that I love and for the opportunities that have come with it,” Na said in an open letter addressed to his fans.

“However, to remain a PGA Tour player, I must give up my right to make these choices about my career. If I exercise my right to choose where and when I play golf, then I cannot remain a PGA Tour player without facing disciplinary proceedings and legal action from the PGA Tour.

“I am sad to share that I have chosen to resign from the PGA Tour. This has not been an easy decision and not one taken lightly. I hope the current policies change, and I’ll be able to play on the PGA Tour again .”

Kevin Na watches a tee shot off the third hole during the second round of the Charles Schwab Challenge at the Colonial Country Club May 27, 2022, in Fort Worth, Texas.

Kevin Na watches a tee shot off the third hole during the second round of the Charles Schwab Challenge at the Colonial Country Club May 27, 2022, in Fort Worth, Texas.
(AP Photo/LM Otero)

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The PGA Tour announced last month it would not be granting players’ requests for release to compete in the rival LIV Golf Invitational.

Fox News’ Paulina Dedaj contributed to this report.

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