Why Aren't LIV Golfers Taking Part In The Players Championship?

The unofficial fifth Major this year has a severely weakened field with no LIV Golf stars playing at TPC Sawgrass, but why?

Jon Rahm, Phil Mickelson and Brooks Koepka
(Image credit: Getty Images)

It's known as "the strongest field in golf" but The Players Championship is missing some big names this year with nobody from the LIV Golf League in attendance at TPC Sawgrass.

It's a big point of conjecture this week that with so many big names not in the line-up, The Players Championship should lose it's unofficial tag as 'the fifth Major' in golf.

For different reasons, The Players is also missing the star power of Tiger Woods as the 15-time Major champion has decided not to play for the fifth year running.

But with Jon Rahm and Tyrrell Hatton now joining the likes of Phil Mickelson, Bryson DeChambeauDustin Johnson, Cameron Smith and Brooks Koepka in LIV Golf, the quality of the field at The Players has undoubtedly taken a hit.

And the reason being that despite Jay Monahan saying he's been in talks with Saudi PIF boss Yasir Al-Rumayyan, LIV Golf players are still automatically suspended from the PGA Tour.

The men's Majors have benefitted from the split in golf, with the four big events now the only ones where the likes of Rahm, Mickelson and Koepka will tackle Scottie SchefflerRory McIlroy and Viktor Hovland.

The fifth Major has not yet followed suit though, with the PGA Tour's showpiece event following the line of the rest of the circuit in not allowing LIV players to compete.

Monahan did say on Wednesday that talks with the Saudi PIF are accelerating and you'd presume that if an investment deal can eventually get done then LIV Golf players would be allowed to take part at some stage.

We've not reached that stage yet though, so even though some players such as Billy Horschel would like to see LIV stars teeing it up at Sawgrass, they continue to miss out.

Billy Horschel at the 2024 WM Phoenix Open

(Image credit: Getty Images)

"I'm born and raised in the state of Florida, so this has always been a fifth major to me and I've always seen it as that," Horschel told Sky Sports.

"It's unfortunate that we don't have some of the best players in the world here. I did have a conversation with Jay [Monahan] about a year and a half ago about if the majors were going to let the guys that went to LIV, shouldn't we maybe let them in?

"If we see ourselves as a fifth major, which I believe we are, shouldn't we, maybe put out a little bit of olive branch? 

"We had a great conversation about that and I understood his side of it and the PGA Tour side, but I think personally it's tough to say that we don't have all the best players in the world here.

"Take out the world rankings, take out everything. Everyone knows by the eyeballs test who the best players are in the world and I think, hopefully, a year from now we will have all the best players back here again playing."

Paul Higham

Paul Higham is a sports journalist with over 20 years of experience in covering most major sporting events for both Sky Sports and BBC Sport. He is currently freelance and covers the golf majors on the BBC Sport website.  Highlights over the years include covering that epic Monday finish in the Ryder Cup at Celtic Manor and watching Rory McIlroy produce one of the most dominant Major wins at the 2011 US Open at Congressional. He also writes betting previews and still feels strangely proud of backing Danny Willett when he won the Masters in 2016 - Willett also praised his putting stroke during a media event before the Open at Hoylake. Favourite interviews he's conducted have been with McIlroy, Paul McGinley, Thomas Bjorn, Rickie Fowler and the enigma that is Victor Dubuisson. A big fan of watching any golf from any tour, sadly he spends more time writing about golf than playing these days with two young children, and as a big fair weather golfer claims playing in shorts is worth at least five shots. Being from Liverpool he loves the likes of Hoylake, Birkdale and the stretch of tracks along England's Golf Coast, but would say his favourite courses played are Kingsbarns and Portrush.