PGA Tour 2K23 Won't Cut LIV Golf Players, Even If They're Banned From The PGA

Golf is changing.

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Professional golf is facing one of its most tumultuous times, with the PGA Tour and the Saudi-backed upstart league LIV Golf squaring off in a battle that could shape the future of the sport. A number of high-profile and highly ranked PGA Tour players have jumped ship to join LIV Golf, but how will the off-the-course drama affect the upcoming PGA Tour 2K23 and EA Sports PGA Tour?

That all remains to be seen, but 2K Sports has now released a statement addressing the drama. Hours after 2K released a list of playable pros to be featured in PGA Tour 2K23, the company told GameSpot that in the event any golfer on PGA Tour 2K23's roster leaves the PGA Tour for LIV Golf, that player will not be removed from PGA Tour 2K23.

"As the title of the game indicates, this game is made in partnership with the PGA Tour. Over the course of the franchise, we have engaged directly with certain PGA Tour players to participate in the game," the spokesperson said. "Given the changing landscape of professional golf and the timelines on our development of the game, there will be players who were once actively participating on the PGA Tour that remain within the game."

PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan is banning LIV Golf players from the PGA Tour, and even taking away coveted parking spots.

The list of playable golfers for PGA Tour 2K23 includes 12 names so far, including Tiger Woods, Justin Thomas, Will Zalatoris, Tony Finau, Rickie Fowler, and Xander Schauffele, as well as Lexi Thompson, Lydia Ko, and Brooke Henderson from the LPGA. LIV Golf only has male players, and none of the names announced so far for PGA Tour 2K23 have joined the rival league. Some of the women from the LPGA Tour, including Lexi Thompson, have played in Aramco events, which are funded by Saudi Arabia.

PGA Tour 2K23 List Of Playable Pros

  • Tiger Woods
  • Justin Thomas
  • Lexi Thompson
  • Lydia Ko
  • Brooke Henderson
  • Will Zalatoris
  • Collin Morikawa
  • Tony Finau
  • Jon Rahm
  • Rickie Fowler
  • Justin Rose
  • Xander Schauffele

LIV Golf has faced plenty of scrutiny over its funding source, which is Saudi Arabia's Public Investment Fund (PIF). Observers have also pointed to the kingdom's history of human rights issues.

In 2018, US-based journalist Jamal Khashoggi, who criticized Saudi Arabia's government, entered the Saudi consulate in Istanbul and never left. The CIA later concluded that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman ordered Khashoggi to be killed.

LIV Golf attracted big-name, highly ranked, and Major-winning golfers like Phil Mickelson, Bryson DeChambeau, Dustin Johnson, Sergio Garcia, and Brooks Koepka through big-time signing bonuses and more lucrative tournament prize purses compared to the PGA Tour, as well as a lighter schedule and new tournament formats. In terms of payouts, Mickelson is said to have been paid $200 million to join LIV. The reigning Open champion, Cameron Smith, is among the newest additions to the LIV Golf roster.

2K Sports said it will have additional playable pros to be announced later for PGA Tour 2K23, and it's possible the company is intentionally holding back some announcements to wait and see if those players leave the PGA Tour for LIV Golf. Another possibility is the launch roster already does include some PGA Tour-turned-LIV golfers, and 2K isn't announcing them yet to avoid a PR issue. This is only speculation, but we'll find out soon enough because PGA Tour 2K23's October release date is right around the corner.

The initial roster for PGA Tour 2K23 is made up of players who have vocally criticized LIV Golf, like Woods, who said he is disappointed by PGA Tour players who joined the new league. LIV Golf commissioner Greg Norman offered Woods $700 million-$800 million to join LIV Golf, but he said no.

While 2K has released a statement in response to LIV Golf, the same cannot be said for EA Sports ahead of the company's release of EA Sports PGA Tour in 2023. In July, a spokesperson for EA said the company had no comment at the time, and the company reiterated that today when approached for a comment.

Saudi Arabia's PIF has also invested in companies like Disney, Meta, Starbucks, Tesla, Uber, IBM, Boeing, Marriott, and more. More recently, the PIF bought 5% of Nintendo and invested $1 billion into Embracer, the company that owns Borderlands studio Gearbox and now the rights to The Lord of the Rings. The PIF also owns pieces of EA, Activision Blizzard, Take-Two, Capcom, and SNK.

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